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Anti-Immigrant Groups Borrow From Playbook Of Hate Groups To Demonize Hispanics

New York, NY, October 23, 2007 As the national debate over immigration reached a fever pitch, some mainstream advocacy groups "reached for the playbook of hate groups" -- resorting to hateful and dehumanizing stereotypes and outright bigotry to demonize immigrants.

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL), which monitors extremist groups and their rhetoric with regard to the immigration debate, has exposed a new development where some of the more mainstream anti-immigrant groups increasingly are adopting the tactics and rhetoric of racist groups and moving it into the mainstream.

"Under the guise of warning about the impact of illegal immigration in the rush to thwart the immigration bill from becoming law, some anti-immigrant groups reached for the playbook of hate groups," said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director.  "They have taken hateful and racist rhetoric and brought it into the mainstream."

ADL's new online report, Immigrants Targeted: Extremist Rhetoric Moves into the Mainstream documents the rhetoric employed by groups that routinely position themselves as legitimate, mainstream advocates against illegal immigration in America.

A closer look at the public record reveals that many ostensibly mainstream anti-illegal immigration organizations including those who testified before Congress or frequently appeared on news programs   promote virulent anti-Hispanic and anti-immigrant rhetoric.  Some groups have fostered links with extremist groups. 

The groups highlighted in the ADL report include Mothers Against Illegal Aliens (Phoenix, AZ), the Federation for American Immigration Reform (Washington, DC), Choose Black America, You Don't Speak for Me, Americans for Legal Immigration Political Action Committee (Raleigh, NC), Grass Fire (Maxwell, IA) and The Dustin Inman Society (Marietta, GA).

"The Ku Klux Klan and neo-Nazis were not the only ones who saw an opportunity in the national debate over immigration to sow the seeds of racism as a means to derail immigration reform," said Mr. Foxman.  "While reasonable people can disagree about border control and the appropriate parameters for immigration reform, the debate has been tainted by the virulent anti-immigrant message employed by a handful of groups.  The real victims in this are Hispanic-Americans and other immigrants who are being unfairly targeted, demeaned and stereotyped."

The report cites several key tactics used by anti-immigrant groups, including:

  • Describing immigrants as "third world invaders," who come to America to destroy our heritage, "colonize" the country and attack our "way of life."  This charge is used against Hispanics, Asians and other people of color.
  • Using terminology that describes immigrants as part of "hordes" that "swarm" over the border. This dehumanizing language has become common.
  • Portraying immigrants as carriers of diseases like leprosy, tuberculosis, Chagas disease (a potentially fatal parasitic disease), dengue fever, polio, malaria.
  • Depicting immigrants as criminals, murderers, rapists, terrorists, and a danger to children and families.
  • Propagating conspiracy theories about an alleged secret "reconquista" plot by Mexican immigrants to create a "greater Mexico" by seizing seven states in the American Southwest that once belonged to Mexico.

The Anti-Defamation League, founded in 1913, is the world's leading organization fighting anti-Semitism through programs and services that counteract hatred, prejudice and bigotry.



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Read the report:
Immigrants Targeted: Extremist Rhetoric Moves into the Mainstream

Ku Klux Klan Rebounds with New Focus on Immigration
(2/6/07)
ADL Report: Extremists Declare 'Open Season' on Immigrants; Hispanics Target of Incitement and Violence
(5/24/06)

Immigration Reports and Resources

 
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2007 Anti-Defamation League