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December 21, 2012 2

Upcoming Maryland Event Sign Of Increased Anti-Immigrant Activity

A con­fer­ence spon­sored by the Mary­land Con­ser­v­a­tive Action Net­work is due to take place in Annapo­lis on Jan­u­ary 12, 2013. The con­fer­ence, titled “Turn­ing the Tides 2013” brings together many of the main anti-immigrant voices in the state as well as some speak­ers known for their anti-Muslim state­ments and associations.

The con­fer­ence is the lat­est exam­ple of anti-immigrant activ­ity in Mary­land. Anti-immigrant activists were instru­men­tal in gath­er­ing enough sig­na­tures to put a mea­sure on the bal­lot in the Novem­ber 2012 elec­tion seek­ing to undo a law that granted in-state tuition to undoc­u­mented immi­grants at pub­lic col­leges in the state.  The in-state tuition bill was orig­i­nally signed into law in 2011. Despite the efforts of anti-immigrant activists, a major­ity of Mary­land vot­ers voted in favor of grant­ing in-state tuition. Many of the anti-immigrant activists involved in get­ting the issue on the bal­lot are due to speak at the Jan­u­ary 12 conference.

Sched­uled speak­ers at the event include:

Brad Botwin

Brad Botwin – founder of the anti-immigrant group Help Save Mary­land (HSM). Botwin’s group is listed on the web­site of the largest anti-immigrant group in the coun­try, the Fed­er­a­tion for Amer­i­can Immi­gra­tion Reform (FAIR), as a state con­tact. Botwin’s group has co-sponsored events with FAIR and other national groups, such as the Virginia-based Num­ber­sUSA. HSM also worked with FAIR’s legal arm, the Immi­gra­tion Reform Law Insti­tute (IRLI).

Neil Par­rott – Repub­li­can House of Del­e­gates mem­ber rep­re­sent­ing Dis­trict 2B. Par­rott is a mem­ber of State Leg­is­la­tors for Legal Immi­gra­tion (SLLI), a coali­tion of state law­mak­ers who work with IRLI to draft and intro­duce anti-immigrant leg­is­la­tion in their states. Par­rott was chair­man of the peti­tion group that suc­cess­fully put the in-state tuition law on the bal­lot in November.

Pamela Geller – co-founder of Stop the Islamiza­tion of Amer­ica (SOIA), a group seek­ing to rouse pub­lic fears about a “vast Islamic con­spir­acy” to destroy Amer­i­can val­ues.   Geller also works closely with far-right groups and fig­ures in Europe, such as the Eng­lish Defense League (EDL) and anti-Muslim Dutch politi­cian Geert Wilders.

Diana West – author and jour­nal­ist who writes about the “dan­gers” of Islam. In a Sep­tem­ber 15, 2012 post on her web­site, West wrote “Indeed, it is this basic Islamic cen­sor­ship that is at the crux of why Islam itself — not ‘Islamism,’ not ‘rad­i­cal Islam,’ not ‘Islamists’” but Islam — is an exis­ten­tial threat to the sur­vival of any free soci­ety.” In 2007, West met with mem­bers of the racist and xeno­pho­bic Bel­gian polit­i­cal party Vlaams Belang.

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