Governor Nathan Deal keeps alive the spark of his much-criticized choice for the state immigration review board.
After naming Phil Kent to take one seat of the seven-member board, both the governor and Kent himself have faced increased opposition from pro immigrant organizations and even journalists.
In a recent street interview, Deal was asked if he supported Kent’s views on multiculturalism, to which he answered that he wasn’t aware of those views and that they didn’t matter for the post he was required to do.
Governor Nathan Deal wanted supporters of tougher immigration laws on the state’s new immigration enforcement review board, and he found one in Phil Kent — one of three Deal appointees to the seven member panel.
“I think he’s qualified. He’s somebody who supports the statute (HB 87) that he is being asked to be a part of the implementation of,” Deal told 11Alive News before tossing the coin at the football game between North Hall High School and Gainesville High School Friday.
Yet, many of his critics call for a revision of these same opinions that Kent has published and can be found on his website.
The Young Georgia Democrats started an online petition that is already making its rounds through social media, demanding governor Deal to oust Kent from his recently-appointed seat.
In a series of opinions, Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s columnist Jay Bookman has directed attention to Kent’s columns in which he argues that America’s “white culture” is at risk with the recent exponential growth of minorities.
From one of Bookman’s pieces:
After all, Deal has appointed Kent to serve as one of his three representatives on a powerful new seven-member state immigration panel. Kent also has a documented history of inflammatory statements regarding immigration and race.
For example, Kent has warned that non-white babies now outnumber white babies, wondering what it will “mean to be white after ‘whiteness’ no longer defines the cultural mainstream.” He has opposed letting Somali war refugees into the country, referring to them as “primitive peoples,” and predicts that as the country becomes more diverse, white Americans will be disadvantaged and “flee into whiteness.”
Bill Nigut, Southeast Regional Director of Anti-Defamation League, asked the governor to consider whether Kent’s presence on the board “will undermine its authority, suggesting that the board’s agenda will not be simply to assure compliance with the new statute, but rather to pursue an anti-immigrant political agenda.”
From Nigut’s letter:
“Mr. Kent’s fixation with maintaining white culture is deeply disturbing, and his resort to fear mongering about undocumented residents is equally abhorrent. Both make him an unsuitable candidate to serve on any state panel or board, much less one dedicated to enforcing immigration laws. Georgia’s new immigration law has become a lightning rod for controversy. Mr. Kent’s presence on the Immigration Enforcement Review Board will simply stir up even more controversy and bring possible discredit to the state’s efforts to control illegal immigration.”
Kent has countered saying that he’s not surprised that who he calls his enemies are lambasting him for exercising his freedom of speech.
From Kent’s letter:
Why doesn’t Bookman want me on a panel overseeing compliance with Georgia’s immigration control law? Because he doesn’t want it used, that’s why. He hates the law, the board and me because of my opposition to the open borders lobby. And in a thinly veiled effort to prevent the implementation of this public safety measure, he takes selective quotations from my writings and analysis of our nation’s changing demographics to discredit my calls for strict enforcement of immigration laws.
Kent is a conservative journalist and commentator who has a public relations firm in Atlanta. He is also the spokesperson for Americans for Immigration Control, organization that the Southern Poverty Law Center has labeled a hate group.
This immigration review board was created by the state’s harsh immigration bill, HB87.
This board, and each of its members will have court-like powers, and will be able to investigate complaints, hold hearings, subpoena documents and witnesses, and take disciplinary action. Public employees or officials found to have “knowingly and willfully violated or failed to abide by” the laws can be punished by a fine of up to $5,000.
The board is set to have its first meeting Oct. 1.