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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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September 28, 2012 0

Numbers USA donates $100,000 to help defend anti-immigrant ordinance in Famers Branch, Texas

The anti-immigrant group, Num­ber­sUSA, recently donated $100,000 to the Farm­ers Branch legal defense fund in an effort to help an anti-immigrant ordi­nance in the Texas town pass its lat­est round of legal challenges.

If upheld, the ordi­nance would ban all undoc­u­mented immi­grants from rent­ing prop­er­ties in the town.  Ban­ning undoc­u­mented immi­grants from rent­ing prop­er­ties is a small part of the “attri­tion through enforce­ment” plat­form cre­ated by the anti-immigrant move­ment. The platform’s goal is to make life so dif­fi­cult for immi­grants that they will “self deport” back to their coun­try of origin.

Accord­ing to finan­cial records, Num­ber­sUSA donated $10,000 to the Farm­ers Branch Legal Defense Fund in 2009, so this most recent con­tri­bu­tion of $100,000 is a ten-fold increase. Last week the full Fifth Cir­cuit Court of Appeals heard oral argu­ments on the case. If the Fifth Cir­cuit upholds the law, a key piece of the anti-immigrant movement’s “attri­tion through enforce­ment” pol­icy would be given the green light and sim­i­lar ordi­nances may spring up in towns across the country.

Another anti-immigrant group, the Immi­gra­tion Reform Law Insti­tute (IRLI), is also heav­ily involved in the Farm­ers Branch case. IRLI drafted the ordi­nance and is also defend­ing the case in court. The IRLI lawyer in the case is Kris Kobach, the Sec­re­tary of State of Kansas and author of some of the harsh­est anti-immigrant leg­is­la­tion passed in the coun­try, includ­ing Arizona’s SB 1070 and Alabama’s HB 56.

Kobach and Num­ber­sUSA have worked together pre­vi­ously. Just last month, Kobach filed a law­suit on behalf of ten dis­grun­tled Immi­gra­tion and Cus­toms Enforce­ment (ICE) agents against ICE and the Depart­ment of Home­land Secu­rity, stat­ing that the direc­tives both orga­ni­za­tions received from the Obama administration’s new Deferred Action for Child­hood Arrivals (DACA) pol­icy vio­lates fed­eral law.  The pol­icy allows some eli­gi­ble chil­dren of undoc­u­mented work­ers who were not born in the U.S. to apply for tem­po­rary work autho­riza­tions, and calls for ICE agents to refrain from detain­ing them. After the case was filed, Num­ber­sUSA announced that it will be fund­ing the lawsuit.

IRLI and NumbersUSA’s con­nec­tions run even deeper than just col­lab­o­rat­ing on court cases. IRLI is the legal arm of the Fed­er­a­tion for Amer­i­can Immi­gra­tion Reform (FAIR), founded by racist John Tan­ton in 1979. It was under Tanton’s lead­er­ship that IRLI formed a few years later. Tan­ton also worked closely with Num­ber­sUSA founder, Roy Beck for many years. Beck served as the Wash­ing­ton edi­tor for Tanton’s anti-immigrant jour­nal, The Social Con­tract, for a decade and inter­nal memos from Tan­ton indi­cate that he thought of Beck as his “heir apparent.”

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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.

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