Former top Trump advisory Steve Bannon (Image: Michael Vadon, Flickr)
As the Trump administration continues to escalate its immigration enforcement policies of raids and detention of migrants, a group of anti-immigrant nativists are getting ready to gather in Sunland Park, New Mexico later this week for a three-day conference titled “Symposium on the Wall: Cartels, Trafficking, and Asylum.”
The symposium will bring together an array of pro-border wall and anti-immigrant groups and speakers for a networking event. It will be livestreamed, and it is being held on the site of the newly erected private border wall built by the group We Build the Wall, Inc., which has raised over $25 million through a GoFundMe campaign since it launched last year.
Buzzfeed News recently reported that the newly erected border wall, constructed on private land on the site of the American Eagle Brick Company, was built without a permit. The landowner, George Cudahy, and CEO of the company could face jail time.
According to the press release, this event will be a gathering of “experts” on issues ranging from immigration to border security. Specific topics that will be covered include “human and drug trafficking; border security; immigration; citizenship; asylum; detections centers; law enforcement and ICE; the role of Congress; foreign policy; and the economic implications of unfettered illegal immigration.”
The roster of speakers and attendees is a who’s who of far-right politics, including conservative media outlets like Human Events, whose editor Raheem Kassam was a former Editor-in-Chief of Breitbart News and is a protege of Steve Bannon (who will also be in attendance).
Others from the worlds of politics and business include current and former Republican politicians. Louie Gohmert of Texas and Tom Tancredo of Colorado will be attending, as well as corporate CEOs like Trump mega-donor Shalabh Kumar of AVG Companies and Hindu Republican Coalition, John Moran of Moran Industries, and Tommy Fisher of Fisher Industries.
Another key attendee is Kris Kobach, the former Kansas Secretary of State and a former advisor to Joe Arpaio, the notorious anti-immigrant Arizona sheriff. Kobach is a major Trump ally who has been reported to be in the running to become the administration’s “immigration czar.” He recently announced his plan to run for a U.S. Senate seat from Kansas.
Speakers also include David A. Clarke, the former Sheriff of Milwaukee County, Wisconsin, who has been a close Trump ally, and Rosemary Jenks, an anti-immigrant hardliner who has helped lead the attacks on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA.
The press release states that these media outlets will be offering workshops and social media strategy training to attendees.
Several high-profile conservative speakers and organizational sponsors of the event appear on the Southern Poverty Law Center’s list of anti-immigrant hate groups, including Steven Camarota, Director or Research at the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS). CIS was also recently featured in a Sludge article about major charities donating to hate groups using anonymous donor-advised funds. Sludge‘s Alex Kotch revealed that CIS has received donations from Fidelity and Vanguard funds.
Other sponsors of the symposium include NumbersUSA, a group that aims to reduce “legal and illegal immigration”, the Robert Mercer-backed Super PAC Black Americans for a Better Future, and FreedomWorks, which has been backed by the the Koch brothers and is part of the State Policy Network, the national alliance of rightwing think tanks and groups backed by the Koch donor network.
Here is a LittleSis annotated map of the key players around the conference:
It is critical to note that the anti-immigrant groups and speakers at this event are not mere right-wing fringe groups, but have direct ties to the Trump administration and access to funding from more recognizable names in mainstream conservative politics. In fact, several speakers and news outlets that will attend the symposium were hosted at the White House by Trump at his “Social Media Summit” earlier this month. This gathering is a key opportunity for these groups to organize and develop strategies that support this administration’s abhorrent policies.
Here is a full list of the event’s speakers, according to the press release:
- Sheriff Mark Lamb, Sheriff Pinal County AZ
- Sheriff David Clarke, Former Sheriff, Milwaukee, WI
- Congressman Louis Gohmert (R-TX)
- Former Congressman Lou Barletta (R-PA)
- David N. Bossie, Citizens United
- Adam Brandon, FreedomWorks
- Rosemary Jenks, Numbers USA
- Steven Camarota, CIS
- Chris Chemelinsky, Numbers USA
- Mike Cernovich, Conservative activist
- Raheem Kassam, Global Editor-in-Chief, Human Events
- Mary Ann Mendoza, Angel Mom
- Steve Ronnebeck, Angel Dad
- Raynard Jackson, Black Americans for a Better Future
- David Rodriguez, El Paso Native, Former Professional Boxer and Conservative Activist
- Brigadier General Robert Spalding, Ret. Air Force Brig. General
- Brian Kolfage, We Build the Wall
- Kris Kobach, We Build the Wall
- Tom Tancredo, Former Congressman (R-CO)
- John Moran, CEO Moran Industries
- John Catsimatidis Jr., Red Apple Group
- Shalabh Kumar, Hindu Republican Coalition
- Tommy Fisher, President & CEO Fisher Industries
- Stephen K. Bannon, Citizens of the American Republic