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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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July 2, 2013 0

Member Of Aryan Brotherhood of Texas Indicted After Violent Police Chase

On June 5, a Comal County, Texas, grand jury indicted a mem­ber of the Aryan Broth­er­hood of Texas (ABT), one of the nation’s largest racist prison gangs, on numer­ous charges related to a 2012 high speed police chase.  The indict­ment charged ABT mem­ber Jimmy Ray “Okla­homa” Owen, 32, with aggra­vated assault against a pub­lic ser­vant with a deadly weapon, aggra­vated assault with a deadly weapon, evad­ing arrest with a vehi­cle and crim­i­nal mischief.aryan-brotherhood-texas-tatoo

The police chase began in Octo­ber 2012 after a police offi­cer in Bul­verde, north of San Anto­nio, spot­ted a pickup truck that had been reported stolen.  The offi­cer tried to stop the truck, but the dri­ver, Owen, allegedly refused to stop. A chase ensued in which Owen report­edly rammed two law enforce­ment vehi­cles before los­ing con­trol of the truck and hit­ting another vehi­cle. The col­li­sion flung Owen from the truck.

After the col­li­sion, offi­cers allegedly found cocaine and a hand­gun in Owen’s vehi­cle.  Owen was injured in the col­li­sion, so offi­cers trans­ported him to a hos­pi­tal in San Anto­nio for treat­ment.  How­ever, Owen allegedly escaped from the hos­pi­tal.  U.S. Mar­shals were able to locate Owen at a San Anto­nio hotel sev­eral days later. 

Vio­lence com­mit­ted by ABT mem­bers is com­mon; from its incep­tion in the mid-1980s, the ABT has been one of the most vio­lent gangs of any type in Texas.  Cur­rently, the ABT is the most vio­lent white suprema­cist group in the United States.   In Novem­ber 2012, a fed­eral grand jury in Hous­ton indicted 34 ABT mem­bers for allegedly con­spir­ing to par­tic­i­pate in rack­e­teer­ing activ­i­ties, three mur­ders, mul­ti­ple attempted mur­ders, kid­nap­pings, assaults, and con­spir­acy to dis­trib­ute metham­phet­a­mine and cocaine.  Sev­eral mem­bers have already pleaded guilty. 

The Anti-Defamation League recently released a new report on the Aryan Broth­er­hood of Texas, detail­ing its ori­gins, beliefs, orga­ni­za­tion, and violence.

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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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