Just as Donald Trump and his supporters have been targeting the press for months, with the president suggesting last week that NBC might lose its license for its reporting, now immigration lawyers are also being targeted.
On Thursday, Jeff Sessions referred to lawyers representing asylum seekers as “dirty immigration lawyers” while he was speaking to Justice Department legal staff.
“Attorney General Sessions chose today to deride the American asylum system, the vulnerable populations who seek safety here, and the immigration attorneys who work tirelessly to ensure due process is afforded to everyone,” said Annaluisa Padilla, American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) President, in response. “But what he failed to explain is that America’s asylum laws are based on international standards and are designed to support a multi-layered complex process that is intended to give a fair shot to those who are persecuted in their home countries.”
Two days later, members of a white supremacy group tried to hang a banner outside the offices of AILA, according to the Washington City Paper.
The banner said “WE ARE YOUR DREAMERS, NO AMNESTY, IDENTITY EVROPA.”
Identity Evropa favors the segregation of the races and the control of the government by white people. The phrase “We are your dreamers” refers to the fear by members of the organization that non-white immigrants are stealing the dreams of white people.
The slogan echoes the chant of “You will not replace us” heard at many far-right rallies recently.
Nathan Damigo, the leader of Identity Evropa, is a former Marine and a convicted felon. While in prison, he became a devotee of Klan leader David Duke. Since then, he has worked with Alt-Right leader Richard Spencer to recruit white college students into his organization. Damigo claims that his group now has 500 members, although that claim cannot be verified.
According to Washinton’s City Paper, a passerby witnessed the Identity Evopa action:
The witness, who wishes to remain anonymous, tells City Paper that he was walking down G Street NW at around 1:30 p.m. when he “saw two kids hanging a banner” on the building. He recognized the name “Identity Evropa” on the banner as a white supremacist group from watching coverage of the violence at the Charlottesville, Virginia rally in August, in which one counter-protester was killed by a white supremacist.
“I started yelling at them and they quickly ran around the corner,” the witness says. “They might have taken a selfie or two in front of [the banner],” he adds. The witness describes the two suspects as “generic twenty-something bros, kind of preppy-ish.”
The witness says some limo drivers saw him yelling at the two suspects and got out of their vehicles. Once the witness explained to the limo drivers what the banner meant, they helped him cut it down and the witness called the police.
“For more than 70 years, AILA and its members have fought against xenophobia and advocated for laws and policies that honor America’s proud history as a nation of immigrants. Sadly, there has been a dramatic and disturbing increase in anti-immigrant rhetoric and racially charged scapegoating and stereotyping of immigrants. Too many politicians seem willing to pander to this kind of fear and hatred and too few are willing to stand up against it. In this environment our mission and the work of our members have never been more important. This incident comes on the heels of inflammatory and derogatory statements by Attorney General Jeff Sessions towards immigrants, asylum seekers, and the attorneys that represent them. The Attorney General’s remarks were irresponsible and wrong. However, AILA and its members will not be deterred or distracted from our work and our mission to stand by America’s immigrants and to advocate for fair and just immigration laws and policies, by those who peddle fear and hatred. Not today, not ever.”