Kansas Secretary of State to Share Stage with White Nationalist at CPAC

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, known nationally for his anti-immigrant activism, is scheduled to share the stage with a long-time white nationalist leader Saturday at CPAC, the Conservative Political Action Conference.

Kobach is on a panel entitled "High Fences, Wide Gates: States vs. the Feds, the Rule of Law & American Identity" alongside Robert "Bob" Vandervoort. The organizational affiliation listed for Vandevoort at CPAC is executive director of ProEnglish. What Vandervoort left out of his bio is that during his time in Illinois he was also the organizer of the white nationalist group Chicagoland Friends of American Renaissance.

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Alert: White Nationalist to Speak from Podium at CPAC 2012

Bob Vandervoort is scheduled to moderate a Thursday afternoon panel at the CPAC 2012 conference, entitled, "The Failure of Multiculturalism: How the Pursuit of Diversity is Weakening the American Identity." Vandervoort listed his organizational affiliation as executive director of ProEnglish—an English-Only outfit founded by John Tanton. What he left out of his bio is that he was also the organizer of the white nationalist group, Chicagoland Friends of American Renaissance, while he lived in Illinois.

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Beyond FAIR

In this special report the Institute for Research & Education on Human Rights (IREHR) delineates the intersection of two trends. One is a measureable drop in the number of local and national anti-immigrant organizations that were established prior to the presidency of Barack Obama. Along the same lines, those organizations which remained experienced a noticeable decrease in the size of their membership and financial support.

Download a printable version of the Beyond FAIR report

 This has led to a relative decline in what IREHR describes as the Nativist Establishment. It should be noted that IREHR is not arguing that these organizations have disappeared altogether. Neither does IREHR contend that such organizations have ceased to be a danger to human rights. Rather, the data suggests that their size and power have fallen relative to the strength they had achieved at their height during the period 2007-2008.

The second trend is a rise in anti-immigrant activism by the Tea Parties. As IREHR reported in its 2010 special report, Tea Party Nationalism, anti-immigrant sentiment and activism have been part of the Tea Party mix from the beginning. Indeed, we noted then that one of the six national factions, 1776 Tea Party, had imported its staff leadership directly from the Minutemen. In Beyond FAIR, however, we note both an increase in anti-immigrant activism by national and local Tea Party groups, as well as a measurable number of anti-immigrant leaders who have joined the Tea Parties and consequently accelerated the rate of anti-immigrant activism by those Tea Parties.

To a noticeable degree, the transfer of organizational allegiances to the Tea Parties noted in trend two is caused by the drop in strength by established anti-immigrant organizations described in trend one.

This re-articulation of the Nativist Establishment into the Tea Parties changes both the shape and strength of the anti-immigrant impulse in American life. Mixed into the activities of multi-issue organizations (the Tea Parties), it will be harder to delineate and counter by immigrant rights advocates. Further, the Tea Party movement by itself is larger and more significant than the Nativist Establishment ever was, even at its height. As a result, anti-immigrant activism has a bigger immediate constituency and is likely to be stronger.

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Nativists Shift Target to Documented Immigrants

NumbersUSA announced that they will air television ads during the next GOP presidential candidate debate that advocate further restrictions on the level of documented (so called "legal") immigrants. As IREHR recently noted, some national nativist groups appear to be changing course, and preparing to launch a campaign to restrict documented immigration. If this shift in nativist strategy fully materializes, it is likely to alter the terms of discussion by policymakers and the public.

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About IREHR

The Institute for Research & Education on Human Rights (IREHR) is a national organization with an international outlook examining racist, anti-Semitic, white nationalist, and far-right social movements, analyzing their intersection with civil society and social policy, educating the public, and assisting in the protection and extension of human rights through organization and informed mobilization.

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