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July 26, 2013 0

ADL Commends Legislators For Taking Stand Against Rep. Steve King’s Demonizing Anti-Immigrant Rhetoric

Those who have fol­lowed Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Steve King’s (R–IA) habit of demo­niz­ing immi­grants as crim­i­nals may not have been sur­prised when he told a jour­nal­ist last week that “there are 100 Mex­i­can immi­grants, with calves the size of can­taloupes, smug­gling drugs for every DREAMer valedictorian.”  steve-king

This fol­lows a long his­tory of deroga­tory and hate­ful anti-immigrant rhetoric by King and oth­ers who pre­fer to obstruct progress toward a leg­isla­tive solu­tion that could actu­ally address the seri­ous prob­lem of America’s bro­ken immi­gra­tion sys­tem. ADL sent a let­ter to Rep. King today urg­ing him to retract his offen­sive state­ments and to refrain from using incen­di­ary and inap­pro­pri­ate language.

Despite wide­spread crit­i­cism for his offen­sive com­ments on immi­grant chil­dren, Rep. King insisted again on June 25on the House floor that undoc­u­mented immi­grant chil­dren are often drug mules who carry ille­gal sub­stances across the bor­der from Mexico.

There was a swift and tar­geted con­dem­na­tion that fol­lowed from the top House lead­ers, as well as other key play­ers in the immi­gra­tion con­ver­sa­tion, includ­ing the House Judi­ciary Immi­gra­tion Sub­com­mit­tee Chair Trey Gowdy (R-SC).  Speaker John Boehner (R–OH) and Major­ity Leader Eric Can­tor (R–VA) stepped up to con­demn the remarks imme­di­ately. The Speaker called on leg­is­la­tors to reject hate­ful com­ments that he said were “deeply offen­sive and wrong.” Can­tor, the second-ranking House Repub­li­can, said: “I strongly dis­agree with his char­ac­ter­i­za­tion of the chil­dren of immi­grants and find the com­ments inexcusable.”

At Speaker John Boehner’s weekly press brief­ing yes­ter­day, he again con­demned Rep. King’s remarks within the first minute of the brief­ing – unprompted and force­fully saying:

“I want to be clear: There is no place in this debate for hate­ful or igno­rant com­ments from elected offi­cials. Ear­lier this week, Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Steve King made com­ments that, I think were deeply offen­sive and wrong. What he said does not reflect the val­ues of the Amer­i­can peo­ple or the Repub­li­can Party. We all need to do our work in a con­struc­tive, open, and respect­ful way.”

ADL has con­sis­tently called on polit­i­cal lead­ers and can­di­dates to speak out against intol­er­ant and dehu­man­iz­ing rhetoric. In let­ters to Reps. Boehner and Can­tor ADL com­mended their lead­er­ship in pub­licly reject­ing such rhetoric. ADL hopes other leg­is­la­tors will fol­low.  The let­ters noted that “poli­cies adopted in the halls of gov­ern­ment, and the tenor and rhetoric used to debate them, directly impact the lives of immi­grants and all minor­ity groups, regard­less of their immi­gra­tion status.” 

The task of fix­ing America’s bro­ken immi­gra­tion sys­tem is urgent and seri­ous and demo­niz­ing immi­grants does lit­tle to advance con­struc­tive solu­tions.  It mer­its a respect­ful pol­icy con­ver­sa­tion that upholds America’s best ideals of ensur­ing dig­nity for all and that hon­ors America’s her­itage as a nation of immigrants. 

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June 20, 2013 0

Former Border Vigilante Leader Arrested For Child Molestation

chris-simcox

Credit: Mari­copa County Sheriff’s Office

Phoenix, Ari­zona police offi­cers arrested once-prominent vig­i­lante leader Chris Sim­cox, 52, on June 19 on child molesta­tion charges.  Author­i­ties have charged Sim­cox with two counts of child molesta­tion, one count of attempted child molesta­tion, and two counts of sex­ual con­duct with a minor.  Accord­ing to police, Sim­cox had allegedly molested sev­eral vic­tims, all girls under 10 years of age, within recent months.

The arrest marked a new low for Sim­cox, who at one point in the mid-2000s achieved national noto­ri­ety for his high-profile vig­i­lante patrols along the Arizona-Mexico bor­der as one of the founders of the Min­ute­man Project.  How­ever, his fall from grace was just as rapid as his ascent.

Sim­cox spent his early adult years as a kinder­garten teacher in Cal­i­for­nia, before mov­ing to Tomb­stone, Ari­zona, where he bought a tiny news­pa­per, the Tomb­stone Tum­ble­weed, in 2002.  Sim­cox used the news­pa­per as an out­let for his anti-immigration views and soon issued a call for a “Cit­i­zens Bor­der Patrol Mili­tia” to patrol the bor­der with Mex­ico.  Sim­cox sub­se­quently started an early bor­der vig­i­lante group, Civil Home­land Defense.  By 2004, he had received pro­ba­tion and a fine fol­low­ing a con­vic­tion for car­ry­ing a firearm onto a national park.

In 2005, Sim­cox banded together with Cal­i­forn­ian Jim Gilchrist to form the Min­ute­man Project, a high-profile effort to get main­stream sup­port for bor­der vig­i­lante activ­i­ties.  In this, Sim­cox and Gilchrist were at first quite suc­cess­ful, gar­ner­ing national atten­tion and spawn­ing var­i­ous “Min­ute­man” groups across the coun­try.  For a brief period of time, Sim­cox could hob­nob with politi­cians such as Arnold Schwarzeneg­ger and Rick Perry. 

How­ever, Sim­cox and Gilchrist could not get along and parted ways, split­ting the Min­ute­man Project into two sep­a­rate orga­ni­za­tions.  Simcox’s half became the Min­ute­man Civil Defense Corps (MCDC) and focused on bor­der vig­i­lante activ­ity.  Because of Simcox’s lack of lead­er­ship skills, as well as finan­cial scan­dals, the group went into decline, shed­ding mem­bers and chap­ters.  In 2009, Sim­cox attempted a dif­fer­ent tac­tic, step­ping down from MCDC lead­er­ship and announc­ing he would attempt to unseat Ari­zona Sen­a­tor John McCain.  This was no more suc­cess­ful; by early 2010, he dropped out of the race.

The molesta­tion charges against Sim­cox are the first such crim­i­nal charges against him, but not the first alle­ga­tions against him related to chil­dren.  In 2005, Deb­o­rah Crews, one of Simcox’s ex-wives, told the South­ern Poverty Law Cen­ter that in 1998 Sim­cox allegedly “tried to molest our daugh­ter when he was intox­i­cated.”  No charges were appar­ently filed.  A sec­ond ex-wife, Kim Dun­bar, filed a suc­cess­ful legal appeal for full cus­tody of their son.  She alleged that Sim­cox had vio­lent rages, includ­ing one inci­dent in which she said Sim­cox slapped his four-year-old son hard enough to leave a mark last­ing days.

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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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