To: Speaker Adrienne Jones and members of the Maryland House Judiciary Committee
From: Molly Amster, Maryland Policy Director and Baltimore Director
Subject: In response to antisemitic remarks in 2/2/22 Judiciary Committee hearing
Date: Friday, February 4, 2022
Madam Speaker, Chair Clippinger, Vice Chair Moon, and other honorable members of the Judiciary Committee,
I am writing to you in response to remarks made by Delegate Dan Cox (R-District 4) during the February 2, 2022 Judiciary Committee hearing on HB114, the Access to Counsel in Immigration Proceedings Program bill sponsored by Delegate Nicole Williams (D-District 22). I have sent a similar message directly to Delegate Cox.
During discussion of this bill, roughly three and a half hours into the hearing, Delegate Cox began questioning Eric Lopez of the Capital Area Immigrants’ Rights (CAIR) Coalition about whether his organization receives funding from “Open Society or any of its related funding…programs.” He followed up by asking whether the CAIR Coalition “believes in open borders for the United States.” We at JUFJ are grateful to Chair Clippinger and Delegate Williams for their repeated attempts to direct Delegate Cox to focus on the substance of HB114 and to advocate for this important legislation, but we are deeply troubled by these questions, which are informed by, and perpetuate, deeply antisemitic conspiracy theories.
The specific variety of antisemitism furthered by Delegate Cox’s questions is called the “Great Replacement Theory,” a false and offensive construct which imagines that Jews are secretly funding a project to replace white Americans with immigrants of color. This lie, specifically as connected to Open Society founder George Soros and people immigrating to the US from Honduras, helped motivate the shooter in the Tree of Life synagogue massacre in Pittsburgh in 2018; repeating these lies has already led directly to deadly consequences for Jews. It has also been used by anti-democratic politicians in many countries, including Hungary and Poland, to scapegoat Jews as holding outsize power and causing societal problems. In addition to its antisemitism, the theory is xenophobic and racist at its core, implying that immigrants and people of color are somehow less desirable than white residents because of their immigration status or their race.
As we said on Twitter during the hearing, JUFJ — like most organizations and people in our state — believes that all Marylanders should be safe and welcome here. Jewish sacred texts insist that we turn our own historical experiences of being outsiders into compassion for our immigrant neighbors. Members of the General Assembly must not stoke dangerous antisemitic and xenophobic conspiracy theories to demonize immigrant Marylanders and manufacture hate and fear to divide us. We are proud to work together with partners like the CAIR Coalition across our differences to dismantle the machinery of hate and build a Maryland with freedom and safety for all, regardless of race, immigration status, or income level.