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March 7, 2014 5

Anti-Immigrant Movement Dealt Three Major Blows In One Day

Ear­lier this week, two U.S. Supreme Court orders and a set­tle­ment agree­ment out of South Car­olina dealt major blows to the anti-immigrant movement’s agenda.supreme-court-east-facade

On March 3, the Supreme Court declined to hear appeals by the cities of Hazle­ton, Penn­syl­va­nia, and Farm­ers Branch, Texas, let­ting stand lower court rul­ings that had struck down both cities’ anti-immigrant ordi­nances.  Hazle­ton and Farm­ers Branch gained national noto­ri­ety when they passed ordi­nances bar­ring undoc­u­mented immi­grants from rent­ing prop­erty in the towns. 

In both cases, lower courts struck down the ordi­nances as uncon­sti­tu­tional and pre­empted by fed­eral law.  The Supreme Court’s orders deny­ing the appeals requests end the legal bat­tles, which have been ongo­ing since 2006, and secure a per­ma­nent vic­tory for immi­gra­tion and civil rights groups. 

On the same day as the Supreme Court’s orders, South Car­olina offi­cials set­tled a law­suit with immi­grant and civil rights groups over the state’s anti-immigrant laws.  In 2011 South Car­olina passed a law sim­i­lar to Arizona’s SB 1070 that, among other things, required local law enforce­ment to inves­ti­gate people’s immi­gra­tion sta­tus if they had rea­son to believe the per­son was undocumented. 

The pro­vi­sion, com­monly known as “papers please,” effec­tively required local law enforce­ment offi­cers to func­tion as immi­gra­tion enforcers.  In a let­ter sub­mit­ted to the court signed jointly by the Attor­ney Gen­eral and the Solic­i­tor Gen­eral, ear­lier this week South Car­olina agreed that local law enforce­ment would not hold peo­ple purely to deter­mine immi­gra­tion sta­tus.  The let­ter fur­ther con­ceded that the law does not per­mit state and local offi­cials to arrest or hold any­one believed to be undoc­u­mented “for any pur­pose, even to trans­fer the indi­vid­ual to fed­eral custody.”

The Supreme Court orders and South Car­olina set­tle­ment are major defeats for the anti-immigrant move­ment and its “attri­tion through enforce­ment” agenda. In the early to mid-2000s, the move­ment crafted this agenda, also known as “self-deportation.”

The goal was to make life so dif­fi­cult for immi­grants that they would “self-deport” from the city or state and move to another, or ulti­mately back to their coun­try of ori­gin.  Kris Kobach, the Kansas sec­re­tary of state and a lawyer with the Immi­gra­tion Reform Law Insti­tute (IRLI), the legal arm of the extreme anti-immigrant orga­ni­za­tion Fed­er­a­tion for Amer­i­can Immi­gra­tion Reform (FAIR), is the mas­ter­mind behind attri­tion through enforce­ment and one of the lead­ers pro­mot­ing the agenda today. Kobach helped to draft and defend the ordi­nances in Farm­ers Branch, Hazel­ton, and many other cities as well as Arizona’s SB 1070 law.

The Supreme Court orders and South Car­olina set­tle­ment are part of a wider trend of defeat for the anti-immigrant move­ment.   Since the begin­ning of 2013 there has been a major decline in anti-immigrant leg­is­la­tion intro­duced at the state level nation­wide. Pro-immigrant leg­is­la­tion is on the rise and the anti-immigrant move­ment is on the defense, attempt­ing to stop this influx of leg­is­la­tion instead of con­tin­u­ing to draft “attri­tion through enforce­ment” bills. These lat­est devel­op­ments send a clear mes­sage to the anti-immigrant move­ment and state and local leg­is­la­tors that anti-immigrant leg­is­la­tion not only divides com­mu­ni­ties but it does not hold up in court.

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March 3, 2014 0

The Arizona Effect

Josh Deinert

AP Photo/Matt York

Last week Ari­zona Gov­er­nor Jan Brewer vetoed the State’s now infa­mous “reli­gious free­dom” bill. 

The clear intent of the SB 1062 was to effec­tively allow per­sons and busi­nesses to dis­crim­i­nate against the State’s LGBT com­mu­nity by pro­vid­ing a pow­er­ful legal defense based on asser­tion of a “sin­cerely held reli­gious belief.” 

Due to its expan­sive nature, how­ever, the leg­is­la­tion would have broadly sanc­tioned religious-based dis­crim­i­na­tion whether the vic­tim was Jew­ish, Mus­lim, Protes­tant, Catholic, Mor­mon, Hindu or of no faith.   And the Anti-Defamation took a lead­er­ship role in defeat­ing this dis­crim­i­na­tory legislation.

Gov­er­nor Brewer ulti­mately vetoed SB 1062 under fierce pres­sure from the State’s civil rights and busi­ness communities.

But what hap­pens in Ari­zona does not stay in Ari­zona.  Prior to Gov­er­nor Brewer’s veto, at least twelve other states, includ­ing Geor­gia, Mis­sis­sippi, Ohio and Okla­homa, were actively con­sid­er­ing sim­i­lar leg­is­la­tion.  Due to the back­lash against SB 1062, how­ever, Geor­gia, Mis­sis­sippi, Ohio, and Okla­homa tabled their bills.  So the new talk­ing point in oppos­ing such leg­is­la­tion should be “fol­low the lead of the Ari­zona leg­is­la­ture at your peril.”

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July 18, 2013 0

Arizona Aryan Brotherhood Member Convicted Of Hate Crime For Threatening Phoenix Officer

A Phoenix jury on July 10, 2013, con­victed a self-professed mem­ber of the Ari­zona Aryan Broth­er­hood, Brian Lee Harm, of one felony count of threat­en­ing the Phoenix Police Depart­ment offi­cer who had arrested him for tres­pass­ing in August 2012.  The con­vic­tion included a hate crime enhancement.brian-lee-harm

Accord­ing to the police report filed after Harm’s arrest, the offi­cer encoun­tered Harm while respond­ing to a call about a white male wav­ing his hands in the air and yelling at pass­ing vehi­cles.   When the offi­cer found him, Harm—who matched the descrip­tion called in—was attempt­ing to force open the slid­ing glass doors of a nearby office build­ing.  The offi­cer, and a sec­ond offi­cer who soon arrived at the scene, spoke with Harm and even­tu­ally placed him under arrest for trespassing. 

Fol­low­ing his arrest, Harm became angry and abu­sive, soon laps­ing into repeated crude eth­nic slurs.  Accord­ing to the offi­cer, Harm’s rhetoric esca­lated, with Harm threat­en­ing to injure or kill the offi­cer and to “make trou­ble” for all offi­cers in the area.  When Harm stated that he was a mem­ber of the Aryan Broth­er­hood (a ref­er­ence to the Ari­zona Aryan Broth­er­hood, a large and vio­lent white suprema­cist prison gang), the offi­cer began record­ing Harm’s remarks.

Among the recorded remarks Harm made was a threat to “beat nig­ger chil­dren, too, I don’t fu–in’ care.”  Harm said that he would have “all my Broth­er­hood broth­ers” come to the neigh­bor­hood and “you’ll pay the ulti­mate price.”  He told the offi­cer that “ni—rs won’t be safe in this neigh­bor­hood” and that “it’s gonna be tough to go out to din­ner for you now.”  His remarks included many more sim­i­lar com­ments, includ­ing addi­tional threats.

Pros­e­cu­tors charged harm with felony threat­en­ing or intim­i­dat­ing as well as assist­ing a crim­i­nal street gang.  In Harm’s July 2013 trial, the jury acquit­ted Harm of the assist­ing a gang charge but found him guilty of threat­en­ing or intim­i­dat­ing.  Fur­ther­more, in the aggra­va­tion phase of delib­er­a­tions, the jury found that the offense involved the inflic­tion or threat­ened inflic­tion of seri­ous phys­i­cal injury, that the defen­dant com­mit­ted the offense with the intent to pro­mote, fur­ther or assist crim­i­nal con­duct by a crim­i­nal street gang, and that the offense was a bias crime (i.e., a hate crime).

Harm is cur­rently in the Mari­copa County Jail await­ing sentencing.

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