Frontera Fund News Trump Watch

Who Is the New Anti-Immigrant Ombudsman for U.S. Immigration Services?

Julie Kirchner

First, the Trump administration put public education opponent Betsy DeVos in charge of the Department of Education. Then he put Environmental Protection Agency opponent Scott Pruitt in charge of the EPA. Now he’s named Julie Kirchner, former head of an anti-immigrant hate group, as the ombudsman for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

For a decade, Kirchner was executive director of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), which has been classified as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC). 

“Although FAIR maintains a veneer of legitimacy that has allowed its principals to testify in Congress and lobby the federal government, this veneer hides much ugliness,” states the SPLC. “FAIR leaders have ties to white supremacist groups and eugenicists and have made many racist statements.” 

FAIR’s founder, John Tanton, was a eugenicist who also created the Center for Immigration Studies, another hate group. Tanton talked of a “Latin onslaught” and implied Latinos have a low “educability.” In a letter to another eugenicist, Tanton wrote, “I’ve come to the point of view that for European-American society and culture to persist requires a European-American majority, and a clear one at that.”

Arizona’s infamous SB 1070 was largely written by Kris Kobach, senior council of the Immigration Reform Law Institute, FAIR’s legal organization.

While Kirchner was at the helm of FAIR, she helped launch an initiative to end birthright citizenship, which grants citizenship to all individuals born on U.S. soil. Birthright citizenship has been guaranteed by the 14th Amendment of the Constitution since 1868. But FAIR’s campaign claims this right “is based on a misinterpretation of the 14th Amendment.”

In 2006, Kirchner wrote in a FAIR newsletter about pro-immigration marches: “The sight of millions of illegal immigrants and U.S.-born citizen children marching under Mexican flags and asserting their identities as something other than American is very troubling and should be seen as a wake-up call to the political leadership of this country. The United States could well face a situation similar to what has been taking place in France and other parts of Europe, where the children of the last generation of immigrants not only do not identify with the societies in which they live, but are openly hostile to them.”

After leaving FAIR in 2015, Kirchner became an immigration advisor to Donald Trump. She also had a temporary advisory position at Customs and Border Protection. 

Last fall, Breitbart published a statement from Kirchner that read: “Before President Obama’s failed presidency comes to an end, he is trying to force Americans to accept 30 percent more refugees – providing ISIS a path for their terrorists to enter the country… In recent years, hundreds of foreign born terrorists have been apprehended in the United States alone.” (This is untrue: In the last 40 years, just 20 out of 3.25 million refugees who came to the U.S. have been convicted of attempting or committing terrorism in the U.S.) Kirchner also stated that “instead of providing free healthcare to millions of refugees, we must focus on rebuilding our inner cities and bringing jobs back to America.”

It is astounding that a vocal anti-immigrant like Kirchner could be named Ombudsman for USCIS. In this role, she is expected to provide assistance to immigrants and their advocates in immigration cases. She is tasked with acting as a liaison between immigrants and their employers. She is supposed to be “dedicated to improving the quality of citizenship and immigration services.” She will be in charge of handling the complaints of immigrants whose applications are taking too long or who feel they have been unfairly rejected by the system. She is supposed to be “an impartial and confidential resource that is independent of USCIS.”  

It would be laughable if it weren’t so horrifying.