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December 21, 2012 2

Upcoming Maryland Event Sign Of Increased Anti-Immigrant Activity

A con­fer­ence spon­sored by the Mary­land Con­ser­v­a­tive Action Net­work is due to take place in Annapo­lis on Jan­u­ary 12, 2013. The con­fer­ence, titled “Turn­ing the Tides 2013” brings together many of the main anti-immigrant voices in the state as well as some speak­ers known for their anti-Muslim state­ments and associations.

The con­fer­ence is the lat­est exam­ple of anti-immigrant activ­ity in Mary­land. Anti-immigrant activists were instru­men­tal in gath­er­ing enough sig­na­tures to put a mea­sure on the bal­lot in the Novem­ber 2012 elec­tion seek­ing to undo a law that granted in-state tuition to undoc­u­mented immi­grants at pub­lic col­leges in the state.  The in-state tuition bill was orig­i­nally signed into law in 2011. Despite the efforts of anti-immigrant activists, a major­ity of Mary­land vot­ers voted in favor of grant­ing in-state tuition. Many of the anti-immigrant activists involved in get­ting the issue on the bal­lot are due to speak at the Jan­u­ary 12 conference.

Sched­uled speak­ers at the event include:

Brad Botwin

Brad Botwin – founder of the anti-immigrant group Help Save Mary­land (HSM). Botwin’s group is listed on the web­site of the largest anti-immigrant group in the coun­try, the Fed­er­a­tion for Amer­i­can Immi­gra­tion Reform (FAIR), as a state con­tact. Botwin’s group has co-sponsored events with FAIR and other national groups, such as the Virginia-based Num­ber­sUSA. HSM also worked with FAIR’s legal arm, the Immi­gra­tion Reform Law Insti­tute (IRLI).

Neil Par­rott – Repub­li­can House of Del­e­gates mem­ber rep­re­sent­ing Dis­trict 2B. Par­rott is a mem­ber of State Leg­is­la­tors for Legal Immi­gra­tion (SLLI), a coali­tion of state law­mak­ers who work with IRLI to draft and intro­duce anti-immigrant leg­is­la­tion in their states. Par­rott was chair­man of the peti­tion group that suc­cess­fully put the in-state tuition law on the bal­lot in November.

Pamela Geller – co-founder of Stop the Islamiza­tion of Amer­ica (SOIA), a group seek­ing to rouse pub­lic fears about a “vast Islamic con­spir­acy” to destroy Amer­i­can val­ues.   Geller also works closely with far-right groups and fig­ures in Europe, such as the Eng­lish Defense League (EDL) and anti-Muslim Dutch politi­cian Geert Wilders.

Diana West – author and jour­nal­ist who writes about the “dan­gers” of Islam. In a Sep­tem­ber 15, 2012 post on her web­site, West wrote “Indeed, it is this basic Islamic cen­sor­ship that is at the crux of why Islam itself — not ‘Islamism,’ not ‘rad­i­cal Islam,’ not ‘Islamists’” but Islam — is an exis­ten­tial threat to the sur­vival of any free soci­ety.” In 2007, West met with mem­bers of the racist and xeno­pho­bic Bel­gian polit­i­cal party Vlaams Belang.

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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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