September 25, 2019

Luján to Cuccinelli: Cancel Appearance Before Hate Group

Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. House Assistant Speaker Ben Ray Luján demanded that Ken Cuccinelli, the acting director of United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, cancel an appearance before a known hate group. 

In a letter to Cuccinelli, Luján – the highest-ranking Hispanic in Congress – decried the acting director’s planned remarks to the Center for Immigration Studies – a group founded by John Tanton, an individual who has espoused white nationalist rhetoric and is a proponent of eugenics. Cuccinelli is scheduled to address the Center for Immigration Studies Thursday afternoon in Washington, D.C.

The Southern Poverty Law Center has deemed the Center for Immigration Studies an anti-immigrant hate group. A May 2017 analysis by the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Center for New Community found that CIS has shared white nationalist content more than 2,000 times in the last decade. 

“Your willingness to engage with such a group lends dangerous legitimacy to nativist and xenophobic ideologies of hate. This is unfitting of a senior official of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), and I urge you to immediately cancel your planned appearance,” Luján wrote. “At a time when the Administration is targeting immigrants and separating families seeking refuge and a better life, your participation in this event threatens to further embolden extreme anti-immigrant rhetoric and sentiment. This sends a chilling message to vulnerable communities across the country and further endangers our national security and community trust in our government.” 

Luján added, “There is simply no place for this kind of hate in America. Government officials and federal agencies must combat these hateful ideologies and should not lend a public stage to extremist groups or bigoted philosophies. I call on you to rescind your plans to headline the gathering hosted by CIS.” 

The Trump administration continues to advance dangerous and bigoted policies toward immigrants, and Cuccinelli’s embrace of a known hate group is a troubling legitimization of the group’s racist and anti-immigrant ideologies. 

It is clear that white supremacy poses a significant threat to Hispanic, African-American, Jewish, Muslim, and immigrant communities. It also threatens our collective security. 

According to statistics released by the FBI late last year, hate crimes in the U.S. rose 17 percent in 2017 compared to the previous year, part of a three-year upward trend. There were 7,175 hate crimes reported in 2017, and of the crimes motivated by hatred over race or ethnicity, nearly half were related to anti-black bias and almost 11 percent were related to anti-Hispanic bias.

A copy of the letter can be found here.

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