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November 18, 2015 0

Anti-Refugee Sentiment Reaches New High After Paris Attacks

Since the ter­ror­ist attacks in Paris on Novem­ber 13, the coun­try has wit­nessed anti-refugee sen­ti­ment com­ing from var­i­ous cor­ners, includ­ing state gov­ern­ments and the anti-immigrant move­ment. Over 30 gov­er­nors across the coun­try have said they will not accept Syr­ian refugees and have asked Pres­i­dent Obama to halt or sus­pend the country’s refugee program.

Many of the gov­er­nors appealed to fear in the wake of the ter­ror­ist attacks, assert­ing that they could not pro­tect the res­i­dents of their states from poten­tial ter­ror­ists. Later, some Con­gres­sional lead­ers also drove home this fear by advo­cat­ing for the sus­pen­sion of the U.S. government’s refugee program.

Ann Corcoran

Ann Cor­co­ran

The notion that ter­ror­ists can enter the United States through U.S. refugee pro­grams is not new. In Octo­ber of this year, a num­ber of pres­i­den­tial can­di­dates said they would not allow Syr­ian refugees into the coun­try and would send back those who have been allowed to set­tle in the U.S.

But the events in Paris have ratch­eted up the anti-refugee rhetoric, equat­ing refugees with ter­ror­ists and ques­tion­ing their abil­ity to assim­i­late into “West­ern cul­ture.” Anti-immigrant orga­ni­za­tions such as the Fed­er­a­tion of Amer­i­can Immi­gra­tion Reform (FAIR), the Cen­ter for Immi­gra­tion Stud­ies (CIS) and Num­ber­sUSA have all released arti­cles or state­ments declar­ing that the U.S. gov­ern­ment should sus­pend its refugee program.

Dan Stein, the pres­i­dent of FAIR, wrote a col­umn on Novem­ber 16 extolling the pro­gram estab­lished by the Eisen­hower admin­is­tra­tion in the 1950s to deport thou­sands of Mex­i­can immi­grants. After talk­ing about the alleged mer­its of the pro­gram, Stein turned his atten­tion to Mus­lim immi­grants in the wake of the Paris attacks. He wrote, “A dulling ortho­doxy within cer­tain Mus­lim com­mu­ni­ties has degen­er­ated [sic] a fanat­i­cal strain that promises an epi­curean par­adise for mass mur­der on earth.”

In a col­umn for National Review, Mark Kriko­rian, head of CIS wrote, “Relo­cat­ing refugees from the Mid­dle East to the U.S. is morally wrong.” He goes on to say that the U.S. should assist refugees by car­ing for them in their “native region”—despite the ter­ror and war that refugees are expe­ri­enc­ing. Num­ber­sUSA released a sim­i­lar state­ments say­ing that the U.S. should help refugees in their home region rather than allow­ing them to come to the U.S.

Ann Cor­co­ran, who runs Refugee Reset­tle­ment Watch, writes daily about the alleged dan­gers of let­ting refugees into this coun­try by appeal­ing to anti-Muslim sen­ti­ment. On Novem­ber 17, she wrote, “All the vet­ting in the world isn’t going to save us from the tod­dlers com­ing in with Mom and Dad from Africa and the Mid­dle East who thumb their noses at the ‘good life’ and become rad­i­cal­ized 20 years down the road.  The only true solu­tion is a com­plete mora­to­rium on Mus­lim immigration.”

The fear-mongering appears to be hav­ing an influ­ence. The media reported on Novem­ber 18 that two refugee fam­i­lies from Syria that had been approved and sched­uled to arrive in Indi­anapo­lis have been told that they are no longer wel­come in the state.

 

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November 12, 2015 3

Anti-Immigrant Activists Make Common Cause With Extremists

In a col­umn this week for the National Review, Mark Kriko­rian, head of the anti-immigrant think tank Cen­ter for Immi­gra­tion Stud­ies, attempted to defend Kansas Sec­re­tary of State Kris Kobach from crit­i­cism by the South­ern Poverty Law Cen­ter and oth­ers for hav­ing attended an anti-immigration event with racist ties by por­tray­ing the event as innocuous.The event, The Social Con­tract Press Writ­ers Work­shop, was held in Wash­ing­ton, DC, in late October.

MarkKrikorian

Mark Kriko­rian

How­ever, the Work­shop does have ties to extrem­ists. To demon­strate this, one need look no fur­ther than one of the key fig­ures behind The Social Con­tract Press itself: Wayne Lut­ton. Lut­ton, the edi­tor of the Press’s main pub­li­ca­tion, The Social Con­tract, for many years has been a promi­nent fig­ure in the white suprema­cist movement.

While not edit­ing The Social Con­tract, Lut­ton sits on the board of the New Cen­tury Foun­da­tion, a white suprema­cist “think tank” run by Jared Tay­lor of Amer­i­can Renais­sance, a white suprema­cist web­site. Both the Foun­da­tion and the web­site pro­mote ideas of alleged racial dif­fer­ences in intel­li­gence, sup­port the notion of a “white iden­tity,” and oppose mul­ti­cul­tur­al­ism and diver­sity. Lut­ton has also spo­ken at Amer­i­can Renais­sance con­fer­ences, as well as con­fer­ences of the bla­tantly white suprema­cist Coun­cil of Con­ser­v­a­tive Cit­i­zens. In addi­tion, Lut­ton has served on the board of the Charles Mar­tel Soci­ety, which pub­lishes the racist and anti-Semitic jour­nal Occi­den­tal Quar­terly.

Attend­ing the Writ­ers Work­shop was not the first time Kobach has turned a blind eye towards the extrem­ist ties of some of his fel­low anti-immigration activists. In 2012, for exam­ple, Kobach par­tic­i­pated in an anti-immigration panel at the Con­ser­v­a­tive Polit­i­cal Action Con­fer­ence along­side Robert Van­der­voort, the head of the anti-immigrant group Pro-English but also the for­mer head of the white suprema­cist Chicagoland Friends of Amer­i­can Renaissance.

Anti-immigrant agi­ta­tors all too fre­quently give a pass to extrem­ists, so long as they share the same anti-immigrant views. Indeed, the fact that Kriko­rian, in his defense of Kobach, neglected to men­tion Lutton’s extrem­ist ties is not surprising—because Kriko­rian turns the same blind eye him­self. Kriko­rian not only spoke at  The Social Con­tract Press Writ­ers Work­shop this year, but in 2013 he also con­tributed an arti­cle to Lutton’s publication.

The real­ity is that Lutton’s Press serves as a bridge between extrem­ists and more osten­si­bly main­stream fig­ures in the anti-immigrant move­ment. The Social Con­tract fre­quently fea­tures white suprema­cists along­side anti-immigrant fig­ures in its pages. Its Writ­ers Work­shop often invites main­stream but prob­lem­atic fig­ures to its events. The Kansas Sec­re­tary of State is one such figure.

Kobach is known for his anti-immigrant views and has drafted some of the harsh­est anti-immigrant laws in the nation. He also has pro­moted the con­cept of self-deportation, the idea that states should put in place poli­cies and prac­tices that make life so dif­fi­cult for undoc­u­mented immi­grants that they will leave the United States “voluntarily.”

Through its jour­nal and con­fer­ences, The Social Con­trast Press tries to main­stream big­otry by fea­tur­ing well-known anti-immigrant fig­ures to give their venues an air of legit­i­macy. But when fig­ures such as Kobach and Kriko­rian lie down with the Press, they only show how immod­er­ate they them­selves are.

 

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November 10, 2015 0

Supreme Court to Hear Second Contraception Mandate Challenge

Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear a sec­ond chal­lenge to the Afford­able Care Act’s (“ACA”) con­tra­cep­tion man­date.   This time, mul­ti­ple religiously-affiliated groups are claim­ing that the law’s min­i­mal require­ments for opt­ing out of the man­date vio­late their reli­gious free­dom rights.  Fol­low­ing its own recent prece­dent, the Court should reject these claims.

The ACA requires employer-provided health insur­ance to cover all FDA– approved pre­scrip­tion con­tra­cep­tion at no cost to employ­ees.  Houses of wor­ship and other sec­tar­ian insti­tu­tions are wholly exempted from this require­ment.  Religiously-affiliated orga­ni­za­tions may opt out of the con­tra­cep­tive man­date by merely sub­mit­ting a one-page form or let­ter to the Depart­ment of Health and Human Ser­vices (“HHS”).  In that cir­cum­stance, the health insur­ance com­pany or a third-party admin­is­tra­tor pays for and admin­is­ters the coverage.

 

Supreme CourtDespite this nom­i­nal require­ment, a num­ber of religiously-affiliated groups filed law­suits claim­ing that this reli­gious accom­mo­da­tion pro­vi­sion “sub­stan­tially bur­dens” their reli­gious exer­cise in vio­la­tion of fed­eral Reli­gious Free­dom Restora­tion Act (“RFRA”) because it makes them “con­duits” for pro­vid­ing con­tra­cep­tion cov­er­age.   Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear seven of these cases in one con­sol­i­dated appeal.

Seven of eight U.S. Courts Appeals (lower fed­eral courts) have already rejected such claims, includ­ing the influ­en­tial D.C. Cir­cuit.  It found that the fil­ing of the form or let­ter excuses plain­tiffs “… from play­ing any role in the pro­vi­sion of con­tra­cep­tion ser­vices, and they remain free to con­demn con­tra­cep­tion in the clear­est terms.”  The Court fur­ther deter­mined that the ACA  — not the opt-out notice – oblig­ates health insur­ance com­pa­nies or HHS through third-party admin­is­tra­tors to pro­vide con­tra­cep­tion cov­er­age.  As a result, it cor­rectly con­cluded that:

Reli­gious objec­tors do not suf­fer sub­stan­tial bur­dens under RFRA where the only harm to them is that they sin­cerely feel aggrieved by their inabil­ity to pre­vent what other peo­ple do to ful­fill reg­u­la­tory objec­tives after they opt out.  They have no RFRA right to be free from the unease, or even anguish, of know­ing that third par­ties are legally priv­i­leged or oblig­ated to act in ways their reli­gion abhors.

Although these seven deci­sions should per­suade the U.S. Supreme Court, they are not bind­ing.  But lan­guage in the Court’s own highly prob­lem­atic June 2015 Hobby Lobby deci­sion should dic­tate the out­come this time.  In Hobby Lobby, the Court reached the trou­bling con­clu­sion that for the pur­poses of RFRA it could not dis­tin­guish between a for-profit close cor­po­ra­tion ver­sus a religiously-affiliated group hav­ing a reli­gious objec­tion to the con­tra­cep­tion man­date.  As a result, it ruled that like non-profit religiously-affiliated groups, such close cor­po­ra­tions could opt out of pro­vid­ing con­tra­cep­tion cov­er­age under the man­date.  The Court, how­ever, effec­tively ruled that the opt-out pro­vi­sion was per­mis­si­ble under RFRA, stat­ing that it “… con­sti­tutes an alter­na­tive that achieves all the Government’s aims while pro­vid­ing greater respect for reli­gious liberty.”

Although ADL and oth­ers strongly dis­agreed with the Court apply­ing RFRA to for-profit cor­po­ra­tions by equat­ing them with non-profits, con­sis­tency would dic­tate that it reject religiously-affiliated groups’ chal­lenges to the opt-out pro­vi­sion.  To do oth­er­wise would be con­tra­dic­tory and mean that any bur­den on reli­gion — no mat­ter how triv­ial — could be used by religiously-affiliated groups as a vehi­cle to opt out of fed­eral law or impose their reli­gious beliefs on others.

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