Anti-Immigrant Movement Dealt Blow by U.S. Appeals Court » ADL Blogs
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August 21, 2012 5

Anti-Immigrant Movement Dealt Blow by U.S. Appeals Court

On August 20, the U.S. 11th Cir­cuit Court of Appeals handed down a mixed rul­ing for recent anti-immigrant laws passed in Alabama and Geor­gia. For both laws, HB 56 and HB 87, the court fol­lowed the deci­sion of the U.S.  Supreme Court ear­lier this sum­mer regard­ing a sim­i­lar Ari­zona law (Ari­zona et al v. United States). The appeals court thus upheld pro­vi­sions in the two state laws that allowed police to check the immi­gra­tion sta­tus of peo­ple sus­pected of com­mit­ting a crime.

Mike Heth­mon

The court, how­ever, struck down other pro­vi­sions of both states’ laws, includ­ing one of the major fea­tures of the Alabama law, a pro­vi­sion that required pub­lic schools to check the cit­i­zen­ship sta­tus of new stu­dents. This is a major blow to the anti-immigrant move­ment, which saw the pro­vi­sion as a sig­nif­i­cant step towards over­turn­ing the Supreme Court’s land­mark 1982 Plyler v. Doe deci­sion, which ruled that all chil­dren, regard­less of their immi­gra­tion sta­tus, are per­mit­ted to attend K-12 pub­lic schools in the United States.

Over­turn­ing Plyler v. Doe has been one of the anti-immigrant movement’s key long-term goals; many major anti-immigrant groups have spo­ken openly about over­turn­ing the deci­sion. In Novem­ber 2011, for exam­ple, the anti-immigrant group Fed­er­a­tion for Amer­i­can Immi­gra­tion Reform (FAIR) wrote hope­fully about what Alabama’s HB 56 might accom­plish: “Thus, the col­lec­tion of immi­gra­tion data regard­ing K-12 stu­dents in Alabama (and indeed in other states) could pro­vide con­crete evi­dence needed to revise the Supreme Court’s hold­ing in Plyler v. Doe.” FAIR’s legal arm, the Immi­gra­tion Reform Law Insti­tute (IRLI), actu­ally helped draft HB 56. In a 2011 inter­view with the New York Times, Mike Heth­mon of IRLI said that the even­tual goal was to chal­lenge Plyler v. Doe.

Sim­i­larly, the Cen­ter for Immi­gra­tion Stud­ies, a major anti-immigration think tank, pub­lished a report in 2005 by Mark Levin that claimed that the Pyler v. Doe deci­sion “is per­haps the most egre­gious of the Court’s immi­gra­tion rul­ings.” For­mer Ari­zona State Sen­a­tor Rus­sell Pearce, for many years the lead­ing anti-immigrant voice in Ari­zona, also floated the idea of forc­ing undoc­u­mented chil­dren to pay tuition to attend pub­lic schools in his state. This, of course, would have been in direct vio­la­tion of the Plyler v. Doe ruling.

The court’s deci­sion on the school pro­vi­sion is thus not only a sig­nif­i­cant civil rights deci­sion that pro­tects chil­dren.  It also thwarts one of the key planks of the anti-immigrant movement’s agenda.

  • Ernst

    Being an immi­grant myself, I just can say this is good news.
    About time this anti-immigration move­ment receives some push back.

  • Rums­feld

    Most immi­grants are not evan­gel­i­cals. They either wor­ship Mohammed or the Pope. No place for them in Amer­ica. Jesus is the only way. Gays are sin­ners. I pray Rom­ney will deport all immi­grants.
    Jesus loves you. We sup­port our troops. God bless America.

    • Ernst

      Oh yah? So Jesus loves us? Whom us, my friend? All of us? Includ­ing those who believe in some­thing else? Like — catholic chris­tians? And those who hap­pen to be born gay?

      So Rom­ney should deport all immi­grants? Silly ques­tion: But con­sid­er­ing we are a nation of immi­grant — your ances­tors come where from exactly?

  • Wrathof­Wotan

    Diver­sity is good, espe­cially for Israel. I think they have a prob­lem with Black Africna immi­grants though; those Israelis are rather xeno­pho­bic. What they need to do is invite more Black Africans in and make fam­i­lies with them. When all Israelis are Black there will be no more racism.

    • Abra­ham Goldstein

      I agree com­pletely. The only final solu­tion to the big­otry of israel is mis­ce­gena­tion through african­iza­tion. Unfor­tu­nately, my coun­try hates blacks and openly dis­crim­i­nates against them.