Originally published by Yahoo news

In February of 2000, approximately 400 people gathered outside the town hall in Siler City, N.C., for an anti-immigration rally led by David Duke, the former Ku Klux Klan leader who’d briefly served as a Louisiana state legislator.

Do you understand that immigration will destroy the foundations of this country? Duke asked the crowd of supporters, protesters and onlookers, according to a report from the event in the Greensboro News & Record. When you have more diversity, you end up having more division and more conflict.

Duke had been invited to Siler City by a local resident who opposed the town’s rapidly expanding Hispanic population, made up largely of Mexican immigrants drawn by jobs in the poultry processing industry.

To get a few chickens plucked, is it worth losing your heritage? Duke – who for most of his career was better known for his aversion to African-Americans and Jews – asked the crowd, according to the Washington Post.

The influx of Latino immigrants – which Duke called an American tragedy – was part of a larger trend that had emerged across much of the southern United States toward the end of the last century and particularly in North Carolina, which saw a 110 percent increase in Hispanic residents between 1990 and 1998.

That was just the start of a broader demographic shift that would occur throughout the country. But in many ways, the rally would come to mark the beginning of a new era for the white supremacy movement in the United States. The results of the 2000 U.S. Census showed that over the previous decade, the country’s Hispanic population had ballooned by nearly 60 percent, from 22.4 million to 35.3 million, outnumbering African-Americans for the first time. Overall, Hispanic people in the U.S. skewed younger and had higher birth rates than the aging population of native-born white Americans, leading demographers to predict that continued growth of the Hispanic population would make whites a minority in the U.S. before the middle of the century.

After that forecast became public, the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Heidi Beirich said, the whole white supremacist movement started to shift its focus to immigrants. Beirich, an expert in extremism and head of the SPLC’s Intelligence Project, says that the rapidly expanding Latino population was viewed as a growing threat to white American culture and political preeminence. Meanwhile, in Europe, the influx of Muslim immigrants gave rise to parallel fears of a great replacement.

Today, Beirich said, the major thing that motivates all white supremacists, what they’re united on, is this idea that nonwhite immigrants are coming into home countries and replacing them in their homelands. A form of white genocide.

Law enforcement keeps watch outside the El Paso Walmart that was the site of a recent mass shooting. (Photo: Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images)
Law enforcement keeps watch outside the El Paso Walmart that was the site of a recent mass shooting. (Photo: Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images)

That idea is reflected throughout the four-page manifesto that officials believe was written and posted online by Patrick Crusius, the suspect in a mass shooting that killed 22 people and injured more than two dozen in El Paso over the weekend. The 21-year-old Crusius is being held on capital murder charges, while federal authorities have said they’re treating the attack as a domestic terrorism case and are seriously considering pursuing federal hate crime and firearm charges as well.

The manifesto, which describes the attack as a response to the Hispanic invasion of Texas and an attempt to defend my country from cultural and ethnic replacement, was posted to the extremist online message board 8chan shortly before Crusius opened fire on a crowded Walmart in the predominantly Hispanic border city of El Paso.

According to the Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Extremism, the El Paso shooting was the deadliest white supremacist attack in the United States in more than 50 years.

Beirich believes the incident did not happen in a vacuum, but is the culmination of decades of organizing on the radical right and increasing over time emphasis on the evils of immigrants and demographic threat.

Edie Hallberg looks for her missing mother, Angie Englisbee, 87, who was in the Walmart store during the mass shooting in El Paso, Texas, Aug. 3, 2019. (Photo: Andres Leighton/AP)
Edie Hallberg looks for her missing mother, Angie Englisbee, 87, who was in the Walmart store during the mass shooting in El Paso, Texas, Aug. 3, 2019. (Photo: Andres Leighton/AP)

In fact, it is the latest in a string of major domestic terror attacks in the U.S. and abroad over the last several years that were carried out by white nationalists with a similar motive.

Anders Breivik, the far-right Norwegian terrorist behind the 2011 bombing and mass shooting that left 77 dead, made clear that he was driven by hatred of Muslim immigrants and a desire to defend Norwegian and European culture from what he viewed as destruction by multiculturalism. Breivik, who was convicted on mass murder and terrorism charges in 2012, defended his actions in court and said he deliberately targeted the mostly teenage participants of a summer youth camp held by Norway’s Labour Party hoping to force the party to change its policy on immigration.

Social media posts by Robert Gregory Bowers, the man charged with killing 11 people in a shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue last fall, suggest that he too was driven by fears about immigrants – who he also called invaders – destroying the white race and in particular, his belief in a conspiracy theory that Jews are leading the white genocide by helping bring nonwhite immigrants to the U.S.

Brenton Tarrant, the Australian man charged with murdering 51 people in shootings at mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, this past March, also appears to have been motivated by the same anti-immigrant sentiments.

The manifesto linked to Crusius seeks to preemptively discredit attempts to blame President Trump’s own anti-immigrant rhetoric for the El Paso attack, insisting that the author’s ideology predates Trump’s presidency and campaign. But there are striking parallels between some of the language in the manifesto and speeches and tweets by President Trump, and in that used by congressional Republicans and commentators on Fox News. Most obvious is the description of immigrants as invaders. Trump has repeatedly referred to migrants traveling in large groups or caravans to request asylum at the U.S.-Mexico border as an invasion, and even deployed active duty military troops to the border to make that point.

President Trump responds to news of the mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton, August 5, 2019. (Photo: Leah Millis/Reuters)
President Trump responds to news of the mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton, August 5, 2019. (Photo: Leah Millis/Reuters)

According to an analysis by the Guardian, Trump’s campaign has put out more than 2,000 ads on Facebook since January using the word invasion to describe migrants arriving at the southwest border. The manifesto echoes Trump’s claims that Democrats support open borders and free healthcare for illegal immigrants to attract new voters to the party, and predicts that fake news, a term regularly used by the president to discredit unfavorable media coverage, will link the shooting to Trump’s rhetoric. Monday morning, before condemning racism, bigotry and white supremacy in a televised address from the White House, the president appeared to place blame on the media for the recent spate of mass shootings, tweeting Fake News has contributed greatly to the anger and rage that has built up over many years.

While expressing disdain for both Republican and Democratic leadership, the manifesto concludes that the Republican Party – which has increasingly backed harsher immigration policies under President Trump – is the best hope for reducing the process of mass immigration and citizenship. The document raises the alarm about Hispanic voters in Texas seeking to turn Texas into an instrument of a political coup which will hasten the destruction of our country.

The anti-immigrant ideas that appear to have driven Crusius and others to violence may not have originated with Trump, but even prominent white nationalist figures have acknowledged that the president’s rhetoric on immigration in his 2016 campaign is what earned him the support of many in their movement – including David Duke.

Listing the campaign proposals that attracted members of the far right to Trump, Jared Taylor, founder of the white nationalist magazine American Renaissance, cited building a wall to keep out illegals, sending home all illegals, taking a very hard look at Muslims, ending sanctuary cities, putting an end to birthright citizenship.

Nearly a year later, following the 2017 white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va., Yahoo News spoke to Don Black, a former grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan and founder of, the first major internet forum for white nationalists. Black reflected on how the movement has changed since he first got involved in the 1960s, and why he believed it was seeing a resurgence.

Of course, immigration motivates a lot of people, Black said at the time. And of course, Trump has inspired a lot of people.

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Originally published by The New Republic

In a bid to whip up his base in the closing days before the midterm elections, President Donald Trump announced his intention to end birthright citizenship. The move shifts focus from the thousands of desperate women, men, and children fleeing violence and unrest in Central America to an even more vulnerable target: the approximately 275,000 babies born annually in the United States to non-citizen parents. With a stroke of his pen, Trump is hoping to do away with a right that is spelled out in the Constitution and which represents America’s historical values of equality and openness.

A day earlier, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, a fierce defender of liberal democratic values, announced that she would not seek another term after a foreboding election in the state of Bavaria in which a third of voters cited migration and the integration of foreigners as the biggest problem facing the state. The populist onslaught has been egged on by the anti-immigration party Alternative for Germany (Afd), which gained seats in last month’s election despite the fact that the number of refugees and migrants in the country has dropped markedlyfrom highs three years ago.

On both sides of the Atlantic, politicians are portraying immigrants and refugees as a plague on society: job-takers and criminals who make us less prosperous and less safe. It’s a familiar narrative, usually untethered from the facts, that has been used throughout history to stir up democratic society’s worst-and most self-defeating-political impulses. If we don’t change course, the consequences could be dire, and not just for thousands of desperate immigrants who deserve a chance for a new life. History has shown that when immigration policy is tightened, we all lose.

In the mid-1800s, America learned the hard way that policy driven by anti-immigrant rhetoric has consequences not just for our moral standing, but our economy and national security. Chinese laborers in California were manning the gold rush and building the first transcontinental railroad. In doing so, they provided cheap labor and tax revenue to fill California’s fiscal gap. Mainly young, healthy males, these immigrants made little use of social services and health systems.

Still, when the post-Civil War economy declined in the 1870s, political leaders embraced and spread anti-Chinese sentiment, blaming the coolies for depressed wage levels. In California and around the country, states passed long-lasting anti-Chinese laws. So did the federal government: Chinese Exclusion Act deprived Western states and Hawaii of needed labor, tax revenues, and citizens available to fight and work during wartime.

This kind of erratic, transactional approach to immigration policy has been a defining feature of our relationship with Mexican migrants, which has been marked by spasms of expulsion motivated by political or ethnic antipathy, followed by a re-embrace whenever it’s perceived as serving America’s economic interests.

During the Great Depression, the U.S. government moved to deport Mexican-born workers and American citizens of Mexican descent in order to exclude them from welfare programs under the New Deal. Over one million Mexican nationals were removed in the 1930s. By 1942, there was a shortage of agricultural labor serious enough that President Harry Truman introduced the Mexican Farm Labor Agreement, which offered legal, temporary work to Mexican migrants in exchange for a guaranteed wage and humane treatment. The so-called Bracero Program was a flop, in part because poor enforcement led employers to seek lower cost undocumented labor elsewhere. But it’s another example of the correction and collective whoops that often follows immigration policy when it’s based on bigotry instead of facts, at great cost to the American taxpayer.

With the U.S. still mired in conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, the demonization of Muslims and people of Middle Eastern descent is equally counterproductive, and potentially even dangerous. This year marked the first time in over a decade that the military has fallen short of its recruiting goals. For years, the military has actively sought talent from ethnic minorities with knowledge of the languages and customs of other nations, bringing immigrants and refugees into the defense community precisely for their burning desire to fight the tyranny and persecution they left behind. Programs like Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest, or MAVNI, welcomed such individuals into the military in exchange for a fast track to citizenship. More than 10,000 people joined the military, mostly the U.S. Army, this way. The program was suspended earlier this year as part of the Trump administration’s immigration crackdown.

Foreign student enrollment in U.S. universities is down after a decade of growth, sending some of the world’s smartest young minds to countries less hostile to immigrants. Scientists are leaving the U.S., taking up posts in CanadaChina and elsewhere. Approvals for H1-B visas, frequently used by high-skilled workers in the tech industry, are down.

These policies are based on straw-man arguments that conflate terrorism with immigration. Of the nearly 800,000 refugees resettled in the United States since 9/11, just three have been arrested for planning terrorist activities. Between 2001 and 2015, more Americans were killed by homegrown right-wing extremists than by Islamist terrorists.

When it comes to the economy, a large body of research shows that immigration confers net benefits to society. Indeed, the president’s dehumanizing rhetoric toward immigrants comes at a time when he himself boasts of an economy that is booming like never before. That’s classic Trumpian embellishment, but it’s true that the economy is growing at a healthy clip, undermining Trump’s own assertions that immigrants are hurting the economy. A recent study by Citi Global Perspectives and Solutions concluded that migrants are directly responsible for two thirds of U.S. economic growth since 2011.

Delusions about immigrants are hardly limited to the far-right fringe. The same Citi Global study found that across countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, host citizens believed that human flows were far larger, jobs far fewer, and migrants less productive in the labor market than they actually were.

study by Harvard economists uncovered similar misperceptions. In France, Germany, Italy, the U.K., and the U.S., the average native believed that there are between two and three times as many immigrants as there are in reality. In the U.S., legal immigrants are about 10 percent of the population, but U.S. respondents believed the figure was 30 percent. In all countries, immigrants were viewed as poorer, less educated, and more likely to be unemployed than they actually were, and this was believed to be mainly because of lack of effort rather than adverse circumstances. In all countries except France, respondents overestimated the share of Muslim immigrants by a wide margin.

In this age of obfuscation, we’ve become desensitized to political rhetoric that ignores the facts. One right-wing website, Gateway Pundit, described people in the migrant caravan as invading migrants who are organized into groups and sub-groups like an army. That’s ironic, given our history of supporting paramilitaries in the region. Many of the Central Americans seeking refuge in the U.S. have endured unspeakable violence, much of which can be traced back to U.S. policies in the region during the Cold War. That history has largely been swept under the rug, making it easy for those who traffic in propaganda to absolve America of responsibility and demonize those who have had to bear the fallout of our foreign misadventures. But reality has a way of catching up.

In a few decades, America will be a plurality of racial and ethnic minorities. Immigration policies that emphasize exclusion and enforcement won’t change that inexorable trend. They will only make us less competitive in the global economy, and strip us of any standing to advocate for the rule of law and human rights around the world.

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