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April 1, 2014

Anti-Immigrant Movement Pushes State Strategies In 2014

While the push for immigration reform at the federal level is currently at a standstill, the immigration debate at the state and local level is in high gear. Continuing the trend of the past few years, lawmakers are introducing large numbers of pro-immigrant legislation in states around the country.dc-march-for-jobs-380

In response, the anti-immigrant movement is implementing a multi-pronged strategy at the state and local level with several key goals in mind.  These include attempts to block legislation at the state level granting in-state tuition to qualified students, as well as driver’s licenses and other public benefits to Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients. In June 2012, President Obama issued the DACA executive order, which allows some eli­gi­ble undocumented youth who were not born in the U.S. but who were brought to the country at a young age to apply for tem­po­rary work autho­riza­tion, and calls for ICE agents to refrain from deporting them.

The anti-immigrant movement is also going beyond trying to prevent pro-immigrant legislation. Activists in the movement are attempting to get restrictive laws and policies on the books such as greater voter registration restrictions in the form of voter ID requirements and English-only laws at the state and local level.

Please see “Anti-Immigrant Movement Implements Nativist State Strategies in 2014” for more information.


El movimiento anti-inmigrante promueve las estrategias estatales en 2014

Mientras que el impulso a la reforma migratoria a nivel federal está actualmente frenado, el debate sobre la inmigración en el nivel local y estatal está en plena marcha. Continuando la tendencia de los últimos años, los legisladores están introduciendo numerosas leyes en favor de los inmigrantes en estados de  todo el país.

En respuesta, el movimiento anti-inmigrante está implementando una estrategia multifacética a nivel estatal y local con varios objetivos en mente.  Estos incluyen intentos para bloquear leyes a nivel estatal concediendo tarifas de matrícula estatal a estudiantes calificados, así como licencias de conducir y otros beneficios públicos a quienes cumplen los requisitos del Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (Aplazamiento de Acciones contra Menores)(DACA). En junio de 2012, el Presidente Obama emitió la orden ejecutiva DACA que permite a algunos jóvenes indocumentados que no nacieron en Estados Unidos pero llegaron al país a una edad temprana solicitar permiso de trabajo temporal  y pide a los agentes del ICE  que se abstengan de deportarlos .

El movimiento anti-inmigrante también va más allá al tratar de evitar la legislación pro-inmigrantes. Los activistas del movimiento intentan implementar leyes y políticas restrictivas tales como mayores restricciones en la inscripción de votantes en forma de requisitos de identificación de votantes y leyes para que se utilice únicamente el inglés a nivel local y estatal.

Para mayor información, por favor consulte “Anti-Immigrant Movement Implements Nativist State Strategies in 2014”.


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January 17, 2014

Momentous Times For Voting Rights

Every year Martin Luther King, Jr. Day provides a time to reflect on how far we have come in the quest for civil rights and how much more we have to do.  Two momentous developments in voting rights law give us reason to hope that 2014 will be a good year for ensuring that, nearly 50 years after the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (VRA), all Americans can exercise their fundamental right to vote.

Yesterday, members of Congress set aside their partisan differences and introduced crucial new legislation to fix the gaping hole in the VRA created by the Supreme Court’s ruling last year in Shelby County v. Holdermlk-voting-rights-adlIn June the Supreme Court struck down the part of the law that determined which states and localities with a history of discriminatory voting practices would have to “pre-clear” their laws with the federal government, essentially gutting the heart of the legislation.  In the 5-4 opinion Chief Justice Roberts said that “Congress may draft another formula based on current conditions.” 

Congress heard that call.  The Voting Rights Amendment Act of 2014 (H.R. 3899/S. 1945) creates a new formula to determine which jurisdictions must pre-clear their laws going forward.  It also strengthens courts’ abilities to monitor localities that implement discriminatory voting laws, makes it easier for voters to spot voting rights violations, and reduces hurdles to fixing discriminatory voting laws.  The bill is not perfect, but it provides a very good starting point for ensuring that all Americans will be able to make their voices heard in the democratic process.  ADL looks forward to working with members of Congress to strengthen the bill even further, and to passing meaningful reform.

In another victory for voting rights, today a judge in Pennsylvania, in a case called Applewhite v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, struck down the state’s law requiring voters to show one of an enumerated list of government-issued photo identification to be able to vote.  Recognizing that “the overwhelming evidence reflects that there are hundreds of thousands of qualified voters who lack compliant ID,” and that “disenfranchising voters through no fault of the voter himself is plainly unconstitutional,” the judge struck down the voter ID law.  He concluded that “voting laws are designed to assure a free and fair election; the Voter ID Law does not further this goal.”  Studies have consistently shown that voter ID laws, like the one struck down today in Pennsylvania, disproportionately impact minority, low income, elderly, and young voters.   Today’s ruling clears the way for more citizens to exercise their fundamental right to vote.

Days before we celebrate MLK Day we are heartened to know that Dr. King’s legacy of fighting for civil rights and equality for all lives on.  Dr. King once famously said that “the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends towards justice.”  Over the last two days we have taken two steps forward on that arc, getting closer to a day when all Americans will be able to exercise their right to vote, free of discriminatory hurdles.

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November 9, 2012

Anti-Muslim and Anti-Immigrant Speakers to Appear at Religious Right Conference in Dallas

Kris Kobach

The “ProFamily Legislative Network Conference,” which will be held in Dallas, Texas, next weekend, will feature one speaker with an anti-immigrant agenda, and a second who has vilified Muslims. Anti-immigrant lawyer Kris Kobach will reportedly speak on “Preserving the Sanctity of Our Elections: How to Stop Voter Fraud,” and Lt. Gen. William Boykin, who has a history of making anti-Muslim statements, will deliver a presentation titled “Never Surrender.”

The conference is being organized by WallBuilders, an Aledo, Texas-based organization that promotes the idea that the United States was founded on Christian precepts. Their conference, designed for state legislators from around the country, will address current public policy issues “in a manner that honors our Judeo-Christian heritage and the vision of our Founding Fathers.”

Kobach, the Secretary of State of Kansas, has drafted some of the harshest anti-immigrant laws in the nation. Kobach and the broader anti-immigrant movement often use allegations of voter fraud as a justification for attempting to pass voter-ID laws in states around the country. Though the anti-immigrant groups claim that non-citizens are voting in U.S. elections, there is little to no evidence to support those assertions, and the voter-ID laws passed in the name of defending against voter fraud disproportionately affect minorities.

Boykin, the former U.S. Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence, is notorious for making controversial statements about Muslims, often voicing the conspiracy theory that the Muslim Brotherhood is infiltrating the U.S. government. Boykin once stated that Islam “is not just a religion, it is a totalitarian way of life.” He went on to say that Islam “should not be protected under the First Amendment, particularly given that those following the dictates of the Quran are under an obligation to destroy our Constitution and to replace it with Shariah law.”

Over the past few years, the issues of immigration and Islam are increasingly becoming important topics of discussion at conservative and religious right gatherings such as the Conservative Political Action Conference and the Value Voters Summit. Kobach and Boykin’s planned appearances at the ProFamily Legislative Network Conference are just the latest example of this trend.

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