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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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August 17, 2012 1

Progressives for Immigration Reform Announces Conference and New Project

The pres­i­dent of Pro­gres­sives for Immi­gra­tion Reform, Phil Cafaro

The anti-immigrant group Pro­gres­sives for Immi­gra­tion Reform (PFIR) has announced its third annual con­fer­ence in Wash­ing­ton, D.C. sched­uled for Octo­ber 2012. In addi­tion, the group is pro­mot­ing their new project–a state­ment on the envi­ron­men­tal impact of U.S. immi­gra­tion policy.

PFIR was founded in 2009 claim­ing to “edu­cate the pub­lic about the unin­tended con­se­quences of mass migra­tion.” In real­ity, PFIR is made up of a host of anti-immigrant fig­ures, many of whom approach the issue of immi­gra­tion from an envi­ron­men­tal stand­point. PFIR’s use of the term “pro­gres­sives” is an attempt to attract envi­ron­men­tal­ists and to coax them to view immi­gra­tion as the cause of envi­ron­men­tal problems.

Though the group has not yet announced the speak­ers at this year’s event, speak­ers in the past have included a host of fig­ures from anti-immigrant groups , includ­ing Roy Beck from Num­ber­sUSA and Steven Camarota from the Cen­ter for Immi­gra­tion Stud­ies (CIS). Also in atten­dance last year was Mike Heth­mon from the Immi­gra­tion Reform Law Insti­tute (IRLI), the legal arm of the Fed­er­a­tion for Amer­i­can Immi­gra­tion Reform (FAIR).

The aim of PFIR’s new project is to deter­mine the num­ber of immi­grants Con­gress should allow into the United States. For years, anti-immigrant groups have argued that not only should all undoc­u­mented immi­gra­tion be pre­vented but that Con­gress should also dra­mat­i­cally decrease the num­ber of legal immi­grants enter­ing the coun­try each year. Extreme anti-immigrant groups such as FAIR have gone as far as to call for a tem­po­rary mora­to­rium on all immi­gra­tion to the United States.

The two prin­ci­pal inves­ti­ga­tors of PFIR’s new project are PFIR pres­i­dent Phil Cafaro and advi­sory board mem­ber Leon Kolankiewicz. Both have ties to other anti-immigrant groups.

Kolankiewicz has writ­ten reports for CIS pri­mar­ily address­ing the alleged envi­ron­men­tal impact of immi­gra­tion. He also co-authored a report with Beck, which blamed immi­grants for America’s envi­ron­men­tal prob­lems. Kolankiewicz is a senior writ­ing fel­low for the California-based anti-immigrant group Cal­i­for­ni­ans for Pop­u­la­tion Sta­bi­liza­tion (CAPS).  In addi­tion, he has writ­ten over a half dozen arti­cles for The Social Con­tract, an anti-immigrant jour­nal pub­lished by racist John Tan­ton.

Cafaro was for­merly a fel­low at CIS and wrote a num­ber of reports for the orga­ni­za­tion that attempted to blame immi­grants for envi­ron­men­tal degradation.

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