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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 9, 2012 1

Key Coalition of Anti-Immigrant State Lawmakers Declines by 30% after Election

State Leg­is­la­tors for Legal Immi­gra­tion (SLLI), a coali­tion of law­mak­ers work­ing to intro­duce and pass anti-immigrant leg­is­la­tion at the state level, will lose mem­bers when the new leg­is­la­tures con­vene in Jan­u­ary. Start­ing in 2013, the coali­tion will offi­cially drop from 68 mem­bers to 49, a decline of more than 30%. The coali­tion not only loses size but scope, with rep­re­sen­ta­tion drop­ping from 40 states to 33.

The coali­tion, started by Penn­syl­va­nia Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Daryl Met­calfe, is very closely tied to the anti-immigrant move­ment in the United States. The coalition’s web­site cur­rently boasts 68 mem­bers from 40 states. While these num­bers are slightly exag­ger­ated because they include some mem­bers who are no longer elected rep­re­sen­ta­tives (Rus­sell Pearce, for exam­ple, the for­mer Ari­zona State Sen­a­tor was recalled in 2011), the addi­tional loss of 19 mem­bers will result in a far smaller coalition.

In the 2012 elec­tions, many SLLI mem­bers did not run for rea­sons rang­ing from term limit restric­tions, to run­ning for another pub­lic sec­tor posi­tion or choos­ing retire­ment. The decline in SLLI mem­ber­ship is a blow to the anti-immigrant move­ment, which par­tially relies on SLLI mem­bers to push anti-immigrant legislation.

Just a few months after SLLI’s found­ing in 2007, Daryl Met­calfe was joined by Dan Stein, pres­i­dent of the largest anti-immigrant group in the United States, the Fed­er­a­tion for Amer­i­can Immi­gra­tion Reform (FAIR) and Mike Heth­mon of the Immi­gra­tion Reform Law Insti­tute (IRLI), FAIR’s legal arm, at a press con­fer­ence. At the press con­fer­ence, SLLI announced that it had “entered into a work­ing part­ner­ship” with IRLI. Essen­tially, IRLI works with SLLI mem­bers to draft anti-immigrant leg­is­la­tion which the SLLI mem­ber then intro­duces in his/her state leg­is­la­ture. This part­ner­ship has been effec­tive, most notably in Ari­zona where then-SLLI mem­ber Rus­sell Pearce worked with IRLI to draft the harsh­est anti-immigrant bill at the time, SB 1070.

Unfor­tu­nately, the decline in SLLI mem­ber­ship will likely not spell a decline in the amount of anti-immigrant leg­is­la­tion intro­duced at the state level. The anti-immigrant move­ment does not rely solely on SLLI to intro­duce leg­is­la­tion that it drafts. In Alabama, for exam­ple, IRLI drafted HB 56, a law even harsher than Arizona’s SB 1070, but did not court a SLLI mem­ber to intro­duce the bill.

It remains to be seen whether Met­calfe will attempt to recruit new mem­bers for his coali­tion post-election. Regard­less, the anti-immigrant move­ment, and more specif­i­cally IRLI, will con­tinue to draft anti-immigrant leg­is­la­tion based on its “attri­tion through enforce­ment” (self-deportation) model and seek out law­mak­ers in states around the coun­try will­ing to intro­duce it.

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