Immigration Hardliners Appointed to Top Advisory Positions at DHS

Two individuals, formerly associated with hardline anti-immigration groups, have received high-level positions within the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Julie Kirchner, the former executive director of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), has been appointed ombudsman at the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Jon Feere, a former legal policy analyst at the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), is advising acting Immigration and Customer Enforcement (ICE) Director Thomas Homan. Both served as advisers to the Trump campaign prior to the election and held temporary advisory positions after the inauguration. While the actual influence of Kirchner and Feere on DHS policy remains to be seen, their permanent roles in the DHS signal the continuing dedication of the Trump Administration to stricter enforcement and more restrictive immigration policies.

Hardline Immigration Groups Have Influence in Trump Administration

Both FAIR and CIS describe themselves as nonpartisan organizations dedicated to research and policy limiting all immigration to the United States. Critics of these groups, including immigration advocates and the Southern Poverty Law Center, claim they actually promote extreme nativist positions and peddle in misinformation, while masquerading as public policy advocates. FAIR and CIS have both promoted harsh limits on immigration and other anti-immigrant policies, such as an end to birthright citizenship for children born in the United States. Policy proposals, statistics, and research from FAIR and CIS has been adopted and used by the Trump campaign, and subsequently the Administration, in shaping its immigration policy.

Both groups are linked to John Tanton, a retired Michigan ophthalmologist, who is well-known for his anti-immigration advocacy, and who has reportedly endorsed the theory of eugenics – based on the idea that intelligence is related to race – and who allegedly has ties to white nationalist and neo-Nazi groups. In addition to FAIR and CIS, Tanton has been involved in the founding of a large network of extreme anti-immigration groups.


Like the appointment of Lee Francis Cissna to serve as Director of USCIS, which is outlined in the MurthyDotCom NewsBrief, Trump Nominates DHS Insider to Serve as New USCIS Director (19.Apr.2017), the hiring of these immigration hardliners to policy positions within the DHS continues to signal the Trump Administration’s restrictive stance toward immigration. It remains to be seen how much influence these individuals will have and how it manifests in policy and practice at the DHS.


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