A White Supremacist May Be the Next Diplomat for the Department of Labor

The Bureau of International Labor Affairs (ILAB), an arm of the Department of Labor, advocates for workers’ rights throughout the world. They work with stakeholders to develop and enforce policies that combat child labor, forced labor, and human trafficking. ILAB represents the interests of American workers in international negotiations, and strives to improve working conditions for all workers globally.

And soon, a white supremacist may be in charge of ILAB.

Curtis Ellis is a Trump advisor and media surrogate with a well-documented history of xenophobic and racist remarks. He was a regular contributor to WorldNetDaily, a website that is known for enthusiastically embracing the false notion that former President Barack Obama was not born in the United States. In his public statements, Ellis has blamed NAFTA for the Flint water crisis, and has compared Democratic trade policies to Pol Pot. In 2015, he wrote a column titled “Legal immigration threatens our society,” although it is his 2016 column, “The Radical Left’s Ethnic Cleansing of America,” that caught the attention of Steve Bannon and elevated his profile. The piece is full of colorful statements such as, “the radical left planned the liquidation of white, blue-collar working families in order to ‘fundamentally transform’ America.”

Ellis is also a supporter of Prime Minister Viktor Orban, the right-wing extremist and nationalist leader of Hungary. Ellis praised him for standing up against “a global mongrel culture” after turning away Middle Eastern refugees from Hungary, saying “it was 1,000 years ago Hungary turned back the Muslim hordes and he’s not going to surrender Hungary to them today.”


This is just a small sampling of Ellis’s ultranationalist diatribes about race, ethnicity, immigration, and religion. Many are written under the guise of supporting American workers – but only if they are white – and most are in direct contradiction to ILAB’s mission and work, which aims to lift up all workers in all countries. He views workers’ rights as a zero-sum game, when in fact part of ILAB’s work is to improve global labor conditions to better support American workers. His incendiary and extreme protectionist views should have no place in positions of authority, let alone one in which he is expected to represent American values and interests abroad.

But in an administration where loyalty is valued above all, Ellis is on the shortlist to serve as the deputy undersecretary for international affairs, a position that would make him the head of ILAB as well as the top diplomat for the Department of Labor. He is currently representing ILAB as a temporary political appointee. If he is appointed the deputy undersecretary, he will not need to be confirmed by the Senate.

The deputy undersecretary for international affairs is an important position in the continued effort to improve the lives of all workers, both American and abroad. Ellis’s public writings and statements demonstrate he is unfit to lead ILAB and to set policies that will affect those who are most vulnerable in the global economy – many of whom have been the targets of his vitriol.

Green America and our allies are opposing Mr. Ellis’s bid to become deputy undersecretary.  A white supremacist should not be setting policy on child labor, forced labor, and human trafficking – issues dependent on exploitation of people based on race, ethnicity, and national origin.

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