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March 7, 2014 5

Anti-Immigrant Movement Dealt Three Major Blows In One Day

Ear­lier this week, two U.S. Supreme Court orders and a set­tle­ment agree­ment out of South Car­olina dealt major blows to the anti-immigrant movement’s agenda.supreme-court-east-facade

On March 3, the Supreme Court declined to hear appeals by the cities of Hazle­ton, Penn­syl­va­nia, and Farm­ers Branch, Texas, let­ting stand lower court rul­ings that had struck down both cities’ anti-immigrant ordi­nances.  Hazle­ton and Farm­ers Branch gained national noto­ri­ety when they passed ordi­nances bar­ring undoc­u­mented immi­grants from rent­ing prop­erty in the towns. 

In both cases, lower courts struck down the ordi­nances as uncon­sti­tu­tional and pre­empted by fed­eral law.  The Supreme Court’s orders deny­ing the appeals requests end the legal bat­tles, which have been ongo­ing since 2006, and secure a per­ma­nent vic­tory for immi­gra­tion and civil rights groups. 

On the same day as the Supreme Court’s orders, South Car­olina offi­cials set­tled a law­suit with immi­grant and civil rights groups over the state’s anti-immigrant laws.  In 2011 South Car­olina passed a law sim­i­lar to Arizona’s SB 1070 that, among other things, required local law enforce­ment to inves­ti­gate people’s immi­gra­tion sta­tus if they had rea­son to believe the per­son was undocumented. 

The pro­vi­sion, com­monly known as “papers please,” effec­tively required local law enforce­ment offi­cers to func­tion as immi­gra­tion enforcers.  In a let­ter sub­mit­ted to the court signed jointly by the Attor­ney Gen­eral and the Solic­i­tor Gen­eral, ear­lier this week South Car­olina agreed that local law enforce­ment would not hold peo­ple purely to deter­mine immi­gra­tion sta­tus.  The let­ter fur­ther con­ceded that the law does not per­mit state and local offi­cials to arrest or hold any­one believed to be undoc­u­mented “for any pur­pose, even to trans­fer the indi­vid­ual to fed­eral custody.”

The Supreme Court orders and South Car­olina set­tle­ment are major defeats for the anti-immigrant move­ment and its “attri­tion through enforce­ment” agenda. In the early to mid-2000s, the move­ment crafted this agenda, also known as “self-deportation.”

The goal was to make life so dif­fi­cult for immi­grants that they would “self-deport” from the city or state and move to another, or ulti­mately back to their coun­try of ori­gin.  Kris Kobach, the Kansas sec­re­tary of state and a lawyer with the Immi­gra­tion Reform Law Insti­tute (IRLI), the legal arm of the extreme anti-immigrant orga­ni­za­tion Fed­er­a­tion for Amer­i­can Immi­gra­tion Reform (FAIR), is the mas­ter­mind behind attri­tion through enforce­ment and one of the lead­ers pro­mot­ing the agenda today. Kobach helped to draft and defend the ordi­nances in Farm­ers Branch, Hazel­ton, and many other cities as well as Arizona’s SB 1070 law.

The Supreme Court orders and South Car­olina set­tle­ment are part of a wider trend of defeat for the anti-immigrant move­ment.   Since the begin­ning of 2013 there has been a major decline in anti-immigrant leg­is­la­tion intro­duced at the state level nation­wide. Pro-immigrant leg­is­la­tion is on the rise and the anti-immigrant move­ment is on the defense, attempt­ing to stop this influx of leg­is­la­tion instead of con­tin­u­ing to draft “attri­tion through enforce­ment” bills. These lat­est devel­op­ments send a clear mes­sage to the anti-immigrant move­ment and state and local leg­is­la­tors that anti-immigrant leg­is­la­tion not only divides com­mu­ni­ties but it does not hold up in court.

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February 24, 2014 0

Governor Jindal’s Dubious Comments on Religious Liberty

Accord­ing to Louisiana Gov­er­nor Bobby Jin­dal, there is a “Silent War on Reli­gious Lib­erty” in America. 

In recent remarks at the Ronald Rea­gan Pres­i­den­tial Library, the Gov­er­nor claimed that this war is being “waged in our courts and in the halls of polit­i­cal power.”  Although “churches in Amer­ica are not being burned to the ground, and Chris­tians are not being slaugh­tered for their faith,” he con­tends that this blood­less war “threat­ens the fab­ric of our com­mu­ni­ties, the health of our pub­lic square, and the endurance of our con­sti­tu­tional governance.”  bobby-jindal

Exhibit A in the Governor’s speech evi­denc­ing this pur­ported silent war is the Hobby Lobby case cur­rently pend­ing before the U.S. Supreme Court.  In that case, the Gov­er­nor is sup­port­ing own­ers of for-profit, sec­u­lar cor­po­ra­tions who are chal­leng­ing the Afford­able Care Act’s con­tra­cep­tion man­date on reli­gious free­dom grounds.

The man­date would require these cor­po­ra­tions to pro­vide employ­ees with com­pre­hen­sive health insur­ance, inclu­sive of pre­scrip­tion birth con­trol, or pay a mod­est tax.  From the Governor’s per­spec­tive, these cor­po­rate own­ers should be allowed to impose their reli­gious beliefs about con­tra­cep­tion on thou­sands of employ­ees who likely have diverse reli­gious views on the subject.

Exhibit B is a series of legal cases against bak­eries, florists and other wed­ding ser­vice providers who have refused on reli­gious grounds to pro­vide ser­vices to same-sex cou­ples.  Here too, Gov­er­nor Jin­dal over­looks the fact that many of these cou­ples find sup­port for their mar­riages in their reli­gious tra­di­tion, and could legit­i­mately claim that their reli­gion is being denigrated.

In his speech at the Rea­gan Library, the Gov­er­nor also said “… the fact is that our reli­gious lib­er­ties are designed to pro­tect peo­ple of all faiths.”  Stand­ing alone, this would be a forth­right state­ment on our nation’s cher­ished con­sti­tu­tional val­ues.  How­ever, given the con­text of his speech, this remark lacks cred­i­bil­ity.  The Governor’s appar­ent sup­port for cer­tain Chris­t­ian view­points being imposed on our plu­ral­is­tic work­force, mar­ket­place, and soci­ety erro­neously sup­ports the use of the Con­sti­tu­tion as a sword to advance the majority’s reli­gion rather than a shield to pro­tect the rights of reli­gious minori­ties or the non-religious.  It is unfor­tu­nate that the Governor’s sup­port for reli­gious free­dom seems selec­tive rather than universal.

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June 14, 2013 0

ADL Marks 20th Anniversary Of Wisconsin v. Mitchell Decision

This week marks the 20th anniver­sary of the land­mark Supreme Court deci­sion in Wis­con­sin v. Mitchell uphold­ing the con­sti­tu­tion­al­ity of Wisconsin’s hate crimes law, which was based on ADL model leg­is­la­tion drafted in 1981.supreme-court-hate-crimes-adl

Con­gress, forty-five states, and the Dis­trict of Colum­bia now have laws based on our sim­i­lar to the ADL model statute.  ADL’s Wash­ing­ton Coun­sel Michael Lieber­man described the sig­nif­i­cance of this week’s anniver­sary in an op-ed, “Pun­ish­ment to Fit the (Hate) Crime,” pub­lished today in The Hill’s Con­gress Blog.

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