A report issued by the Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Extremism concludes that anti-immigrant views have become much more mainstream over the past 10 years.
The 52-page report said that the increase in anti-extremist rhetoric has been caused by “a concerted push by anti-immigrant groups, including President Trump, using stereotypes and outright bigotry to blame immigrants for various problems in America.”
The report, “Mainstreaming Hate: The Anti-Immigrant Movement in the U.S.,” examines how views once only espoused behind closed doors have become accepted in everyday conversation.
“Sadly, it’s plain for all to see that extreme anti-immigrant ideas are a common feature in our political discourse,’’ said Jonathan Greenblatt, the ADL’s CEO and national director, in a statement. “We must take steps to remove this anti-immigrant ideology and xenophobia, and act on the U.S.’s longstanding belief that America is stronger as a pluralistic society that welcomes immigrants.”
In particular, the report demonstrates how groups that traffic in anti-immigrant rhetoric use social media and 24-hour news outlets to promulgate their views. By taking advantage of a new media environment, onetime fringe groups are now at the center of political debate.
One such group, the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), tweeted a statement that Sen. Dianne Feinstein made in 1994 in which she used what is now seen as anti-immigrant language. The group provided no context, but used Feinstein’s words as justification for their own extremist points of view. The Tweet saw tremendous engagement, and the group gained credibility on Twitter. FAIR now has 224,600 followers on a verified account. This was just one example the ADL cited in its report of social media manipulation by these groups.
Another such group, NumbersUSA, has 32,100 followers on Twitter and uses similar strategies, helping Twitter become a mainstream source for anti-immigration interaction, the report said.
These groups, which characterize immigrants as dangerous, “invading” outsiders, have also cultivated larger audiences via TV news, the report said. The ADL cited two Fox News shows, Tucker Carlson Tonight and The Ingraham Angle, as prime-time platforms where extreme anti-immigrant arguments are legitimized.
To deal with this new reality, the ADL has offered the following recommendations:
• A pathway to citizenship for Dreamers and protection for refugees from Muslim majority countries
• Comprehensive immigration legislation that addresses undocumented individuals living in the U.S.
• Improved reporting of hate crimes to the FBI and more anti-bias training for law enforcement
• Tools for students to combat hatred and bigotry and protect immigrant students
• Expanded efforts between the government and social media, and other technology platforms, to counter extremism and bigotry online JN
This article originally appeared in the Jewish Exponent, a Jewish News-affiliated publication.