Yesterday IREHR reported that far right “constitutionalist” Krisanne Hall had met with Trump administration officials in the White House on October 9 and has been invited to a follow-up meeting in November.
As details of Hall’s meeting emerge, the picture becomes even more troubling. Despite Hall’s radical assault on the 14th Amendment; declaration that Kamala Harris may not be a U.S. citizen; and appearance at an August event hosted by the white nationalist League of the South; Hall now appears to have discussed immigration policy with an administration official involved in crafting Donald Trump’s plans for “reform.”
In addition to meeting with Dr. Andrea Ramirez, Acting Executive Director for the Center for Faith and Opportunity Initiatives (CFOI) in the Department of Education, Hall claims to have met with Theodore Wold, appointed by Donald Trump in June 2018 to serve as Special Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy.[i]
As Hall recounts in an October 11 podcast, she and Wold discussed Trump administration plans to “reform” immigration policies to favor a “merit based system” of preference.[ii] Hall described of Wold that, “He said one of the biggest problems that we have with citizenship today is the loss of value in citizenship…He said there’s no incentive to be a citizen anymore.”
Adding her own views, Hall commented, “Exactly…even as a…. legal immigrant you have all of the benefits of citizenship without the burden…The benefits of taxpayer dollars are only supposed to go to citizens.” At issue for Hall was whether, as an immigrant, “Are you going to become another welfare recipient? Are you going to be a consumer in America, or are you going to be a producer?…And I think that’s really important.”
Contrary to Hall’s claims, undocumented immigrants are generally ineligible for public benefits, while legal permanent residents face restrictions on their eligibility.[iii]
Theodore Wold has been part of a working group led by Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, to move to a point system to increase the number of immigrants with technical skills. A May 2018 document released by the Trump Administration, however, indicates that the proposed system is coupled to promoting the president’s border wall, tightening restrictions on asylum seekers, and requiring that “green card applicants must pass a U.S. civics exam and demonstrate English proficiency.”[iv]
Hall’s possible involvement in federal immigration policy is troubling for several reasons. First, in her discussion with Wold, Hall claims that the Special Assistant stressed the need for reform on the grounds that the immigration process has not been updated since 1968 – an apparent reference to the effective date of the 1965 Immigration Act that ended the system of racist quotas in place before then. This law has long been a target of anti-immigrant activists and white nationalists alike.
Second, Krisanne Hall promotes a full frontal assault on the 14th Amendment’s birthright citizenship clause, arguing that the amendment does not establish citizenship for all people born on U.S. soil (despite the fact that the 14th Amendment explicitly states that it does). She goes further, arguing that the “The 14th Amendment [equal protection under the law], the 15th Amendment [barring race-based voting discrimination], the 19th Amendment [barring sex-based voting discrimination] were not necessary. As a matter of fact, they were an unlawful expansion of federal power.”
And Hall goes even further, moving beyond the racist birtherism that helped Donald Trump build an electoral constituency by arguing fallaciously that Barrack Obama, Kamala Harris, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz are not “natural born citizens” and therefore have never been eligible to run for president. Kamala Harris, she continues, is an “anchor baby” and may not be a citizen because her parents were immigrants. Harris was born in Oakland, California, clearly making her a U.S. citizen under the United States Constitution.
Finally, Hall brings with her a set of relationships with nationalist organizations and individuals that promote bigotry and paramilitarism. Among these are Oath Keepers and far right militia advocate, and former Graham, County, Arizona Sheriff, Richard Mack. Oath Keepers, which recently organized to perform security for a speech by Donald Trump in Minnesota, has endorsed material that promotes bigotry and violence toward Muslims and offers up visions of armed nationalists mobilizing against an immigrant takeover.
On August 19 Hall added to the range of venues she is willing to frequent by speaking at a meeting of the Florida chapter of the white nationalist League of the South. The League of the South has declared that “we seek to restore the South to the dominance of the White man and to make it our own ethnostate for our prosperity.”
In addition to Theodore Wold, Krisanne Hall claims to have met with Mark Zelden, Director for the Center for Faith and Opportunity in the Department of Labor, and Jennifer Lichter, Deputy Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy.
In the end, despite her baggage, Hall’s takeaway from the meeting and invitation to return is that she is “excited about having an inroad to bring these issues to the forefront.”
[i] The White House. President Donald J. Trump Announces Appointments for the Executive Office of the President. June 6, 2018. https://www.whitehouse.gov/presidential-actions/president-donald-j-trump-announces-appointments-executive-office-president/
[iii] See Broder, Tanya. Overview of Immigrant Eligibility for Federal Programs. National Immigration Law Center. December 2015. https://www.nilc.org/issues/economic-support/overview-immeligfedprograms/; National Immigration Forum. Fact Sheet: Immigrants and Public Benefits. August 21, 2018. https://immigrationforum.org/article/fact-sheet-immigrants-and-public-benefits/
[iv] The White House. President Trump’s Bold Immigration Plan for the 21st Century. May 21, 2019. https://www.whitehouse.gov/articles/president-trumps-bold-immigration-plan-21st-century/