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February 22, 2016

Anti-Immigrant Groups Ratchet Up TV Ad Campaigns

Two anti-immigrant groups, the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) and NumbersUSA, have been running television ads during the current presidential debates and primaries attacking immigration policies. Both organizations want to impose limits on legal immigration and halt undocumented immigration.

FAIR’s new ad, which began running in February in South Carolina where a primary was held on February 20, blames undocumented immigrants for taking away jobs and college placements from American citizens. The ad also claims that undocumented immigrants are using resources like healthcare and welfare benefits “at American taxpayer expense.” In addition, the ad alleges that undocumented immigrants are committing crimes against Americans due to “broken borders.”

Dan Stein, president of FAIR

Dan Stein, president of FAIR

Undocumented immigrants, many of whom have resided in the U.S. for decades, live in the shadows of American society as they are afraid that revealing their status may result in deportation. In the ad, Dan Stein, the president of FAIR co-opts the idea that undocumented immigrants live in the shadows by claiming that American citizens are the ones that need to come out of the shadows and speak out against undocumented immigration.

The NumbersUSA ad is more explicit in attacking both legal and undocumented immigration. The ad features the late Barbara Jordan, a former Texas representative, and the chair of the U.S. Commission on Immigration Reform in the mid-1990s. Jordan has become a much touted hero of the anti-immigrant movement for her stance on limiting legal immigration and stopping undocumented immigration when she was on the commission.

In the ad, while Jordan speaks about the alleged impact of immigration on job prospects for American workers, NumbersUSA suggests that legal immigration should be cut drastically. It also suggests that undocumented immigration is causing widespread unemployment.

FAIR and NumbersUSA are two of the most active anti-immigrant groups in the nation. Both have ties to racist John Tanton, the architect of the modern anti-immigrant movement. Tanton founded FAIR in 1979 and had a hand in creating NumbersUSA, as well.

Roy Beck, who founded NumbersUSA in the mid-90s, worked closely with Tanton and NumbersUSA was under the umbrella of Tanton’s organization, U.S. Inc, until 2002. Beck was the Washington editor of Tanton’s anti-immigrant journal, The Social Contract during the 1990s. During Beck’s tenure as editor, white supremacists such as Jared Taylor and Sam Francis published articles in the journal. Beck himself addressed the white supremacist Council of Conservative Citizens in 1997.

Both FAIR and NumbersUSA are trying to use immigration to drive a wedge between voters who support immigration reform and those who do not and tend to blame immigrants for a variety of societal problems.

As a 501(c)(3) non-profit orga­ni­za­tion, the Anti-Defamation League does not sup­port or oppose can­di­dates for polit­i­cal office.

(more…)

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August 21, 2012

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.

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