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Former ICE chief teams up with anti-Muslim group for US border intiative

Thomas Homan's project on US southern border has ties to The United West, designated by the Southern Poverty Law Center as an anti-Muslim group
After serving as acting director of ICE, Tom Homan went on to become a conservative media commentator on issues related to immigration and the border.
After serving as acting director of ICE, Thomas Homan went on to become a conservative media commentator on issues related to immigration and the US southern border (AFP/File photo)

A former director for US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is currently collaborating with an anti-Muslim group for a project centred around immigration at the country's southern border.

Thomas Homan, who served as acting ICE director under former President Donald Trump, has been working on a project titled Defend the Border and Save Lives, both a promotional and media project that is also tied to Homan's book of the same name.

A look at the team section of the project's website prominently lists Tom Trento, who is the CEO and founder of The United West, an organisation labelled an anti-Muslim hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. The SPLC's Hatewatch was the first to report the partnership.

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Trento's The United West has a history of Islamophobic rhetoric, including saying that the US is in a "war against Shariah Islam".

"There is no doubt that, for those with eyes to see, we are at war with devout Muslims who follow the jihad teachings of doctrinal Islam," Trento wrote in a 2016 email to supporters, as reported by the SPLC.

"Therefore, it is essential that all Americans adopt a 'war-footing' mentality and are constantly prepared for any threat, any situation, any problem."

Middle East Eye reached out to Defend Our Borders and The United West for comment.

After serving as acting director of ICE, Homan went on to become a conservative media commentator on issues related to immigration and the border. He is known for his hard-line stances on immigration, has supported Trump's border wall with Mexico, and has shown strong support for the deportation wing of the Department of Homeland Security.

This is also not the first time Homan has associated himself with anti-Muslim hate groups. In 2019, he was a keynote speaker at an event for ACT for America, a group dubbed the largest anti-Muslim organisation in the country by SPLC.

"Homan's choice to partner with documented anti-Muslim bigots reflects the poor decision-making he exemplified at US Immigration and Customs Enforcement," Corey Saylor, director of research and advocacy at the Council on American-Islamic Relations, told SPLC.

The project also is affiliated with other individuals who have made Islamophobic claims, including Mary Wierbicki, the director of operations. Wierbicki also serves as social media director for The United West, and is co-founder of Sharia Crime Stoppers, another project tied to Trento's group that produces anti-Islam content.

The United West also organised a private fundraising event on 1 November at Trump's Mar-a-Lago, according to SPLC. At the fundraiser, a television programme associated with Defend the Border and Save Lives was premiered.

Middle East Eye reached out to the Trump Organization for comment on the fundraiser.

Recent reporting in the past several years has shown the financial strength of the Islamophobia industry in the United States.

A report by the Council on American-Islamic Relations found that between 2017 and 2019, 35 of the largest charitable institutions and foundations it reviewed had poured $105.8m into a network of 26 groups that have been known to peddle anti-Muslim sentiment.

previous report by the rights group found that 1,096 organisations were responsible for funding 39 Islamophobic groups between 2014 and 2016, with those groups having revenue of at least $1.5bn.

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