Washington Secrets

$200,000 USDA training: 'Pilgrims were illegal aliens'

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Politics,Paul Bedard,Washington Secrets

The department most associated with Thanksgiving--the U.S. Department of Agriculture--is training workers to refer to the Pilgrims who celebrated the first Thanksgiving as "illegal aliens."

In a department "cultural sensitivity training" video uncovered and released by the public watchdog group Judicial Watch, a diversity trainer is shown saying: "I want you to say that America was founded by outsiders - say that - who are today's insiders, who are very nervous about today's outsiders. I want you to say, 'The pilgrims were illegal aliens.' Say, 'The pilgrims never gave their passports to the Indians."

Ag Department workers are heard loudly joining in.

The videos posted on Judicial Watch website show diversity instructor Samuel Betances urging USDA workers to think differently about illegals and minorities, who he calls "emerging majorities."

According to Judicial Watch, "The sensitivity training sessions, described as 'a huge expense' by diversity awareness trainer and self-described 'citizen of the world; Samuel Betances, were held on USDA premises. The diversity event is apparently part of what USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack described in a memo sent to all agency employees as a 'new era of Civil Rights' and 'a broader effort towards cultural transformation at USDA.' In 2011 and 2012, the USDA paid Betances and his firm nearly $200,000 for their part in the 'cultural transformation' program.'"

The USDA is the administration's biggest promoter of Thanksgiving, often using its website to highlight holiday events and foods.

It also uses diversity training often, like most federal departments. A spokeswoman said, "USDA offers a number of optional workshops and professional development opportunities in order to help employees better serve our customers. Souder Betances & Associates provides diversity training for some of the top companies in America, and the training that USDA provided received positive feedback from employees across the department."

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