The only Latino member of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), the anti-immigration group supporting President Donald Trump, has filed a legal complaint with Washington, D.C.’s Office of Human Rights against the organization over racial discrimination.
The Daily Beast reports that Joe Gomez, FAIR’s former press secretary, left the organization after nine months of discrimination.
He alleged that Jennifer Hickey, a web content creator for the organization, used the racial slur “s***” to refer to him, and that FAIR president Dan Stein also mocked Gomez, saying the former employee couldn't “speak a lick of Spanish” despite his Latino heritage.
The lawsuit added that FAIR’s communication director, Dave Ray, mocked the former press secretary for his Mexican background, going as far as saying “Hola, hombre” and “Que pasó” frequently when Gomez was around.
“It was kind of unnecessary in a professional setting,” Gomez told reporters. “I’ve certainly never experienced anything like it before.”
Joe Gomez, who was the only Latino employee at anti-immigrant group FAIR - founded by Dr. John Tanton of Michigan - said he was subjected to “racial comments, racially charged comments, racial slurs” by leaders and colleagues at FAIR.https://t.co/x09mWkKVO3— Niraj Warikoo (@nwarikoo) August 28, 2018
On one occasion, while looking at a cartoon he had narrated about chain migration, Gomez told reporters, Hickey watched along, telling him, “Look, there’s a bunch of s***s jumping all over each other.”
According to Gomez, FAIR’s director of digital communications strategies, Gabriela Trainor, overheard Hickey’s remarks but did nothing about it.
“The crazy part is that a member of management heard this,” Gomez said. “The president, all these directors, all this management involved, and they expect me to go to human resources?”
In addition to her silently condoning the abuse, Trainor was actually part of the gang berating immigrants, according to Gomez.
Gomez alleged that Trainor once even offered to play the role of an undocumented immigrant in a FAIR propaganda video by smearing mud all over her face.
Talking to reporters, Gomez said that at first, he joined FAIR because he was a supporter of the idea of boosting border security, and that he had no idea the group was filled with racists.
“When I first joined, as hokey as it may sound, I thought, ‘they’re FAIR — they’re supposed to be fair!’” he said. “But based on my experience with that organization and what happened, I don’t know, I think my opinion is beginning to change.”
Gomez said that while he personally found the term “illegal alien” to be offensive, FAIR forced him to use it on air. To the now former FAIR employee, this is an example of “indoctrination.”
At home, Gomez explained, his mother was worried about her son’s choices.
“She asked me, ‘Mijo, why are you working for those people.’ I told her it was just a job, a paycheck — she was remarkably disappointed in me,” he said.
While he said that seeing his mother upset made him question his choices, the breaking point came when FAIR’s executive director, Bob Dane, mocked Gomez’s struggles with anxiety.
In July, when Dane pressured Gomez to be the top speaker in an event scheduled for two weeks away, Gomez started shaking.
He told reporters he takes anti-anxiety medication, but that despite this fact, Dane “took a little bit of joy watching me shake,” he said.
“Whenever I get very nervous, I just start uncontrollably shaking, and I take a lot of medicine for me because I have a lot of severe anxiety — probably because of that job,” Gomez explained. “[Dane] smiled and looked at the intern and shared a [laugh] watching me kind of tremble in fear, panic — I was having a panic attack.”
Having trouble sleeping that night, Gomez finally resigned.
The traumatic experience had made him so nervous, he explained, that even after FAIR contacted him to pick his things up, he said he would just prefer to not go back.
“There’s no way I’m going back into that office ever again,” Gomez said.
Now that Gomez is no longer working in that toxic environment, he just wants to move on. But what’s more heartening is that he plans on donating a major chunk of whatever settlement he gets from the lawsuit to a pro-immigrant charity. This would certainly be a move that would make the blood of FAIR’s employees and executives boil.
Banner and thumbnail image credit: Reuters/Carlo Allegri