Our VoiceImmigrationNews & Politics

Anti-immigrant Groups Deny Charges of Racism While Attacking Voting Rights

Jill Garvey • Jan 23, 2014

Anti-immigrant groups insist their agenda isn’t racist, but their aggressive attempts at voter suppression indicate otherwise. Under the guise of preventing voter fraud by undocumented immigrants, they promote policies that infringe on the rights of African Americans, Latinos, women, seniors and the poor.

Groups like FAIR, NumbersUSA and Center for Immigration Studies say they are purely concerned with immigration and upholding the law, but spend their time and resources crafting racist laws (Arizona’s SB1070), trying to dismantle the Constitution (14th Amendment), and increasingly attacking voting rights at the state level. Perhaps the greatest accomplishment of these groups has been their ability to model racist legislation in select cities and states and export it around the country, as well as advance their “Attrition Through Enforcement” doctrine.

Attacking voting rights is nothing new. It’s been a favored tactic of conservative policymakers for years and the GOP intensified its voter suppression efforts in 2013. As part of this larger effort, FAIR and company are getting traction in Kansas and have plans to significantly expand their voter suppression strategies to other states. For years FAIR has employed Kris Kobach at its legal outfit, Immigration Reform Law Institute. No surprise that as the author of SB 1070 and other draconian legislation he is driving the fight from his home state of Kansas, where he happens to be the Secretary of State and has already enacted one of the most discriminatory voting laws in the country. Kobach has strong allies in Ohio, Arizona, Pennsylvania and elsewhere.

After FAIR’s president, Dan Stein, made an appearance on Rachel Maddow’s MSNBC program in 2010, she commented in a follow-up piece that Stein “was flat-out, totally shamelessly uncomplicatedly lying.”

The anti-immigrant movement as a whole consistently and deliberately lies to the American people about the social and economic impacts of immigration. Expect nothing less when it comes to the so-called facts and data these groups produce on voter fraud, which is, by the way, nearly non-existent.

Combating voter disenfranchisement and the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 were among the civil rights movement’s greatest achievements. The Leadership Conference on Civil Rights states:

“…after a century of deliberate and violent denial of the vote to African-Americans in the South and Latinos in the Southwest – as well as many years of entrenched electoral systems that shut out citizens with limited fluency in English – the VRA is often held up as the most effective civil rights law ever enacted. It is widely regarded as enabling the enfranchisement of millions of minority voters and diversifying the electorate and legislative bodies at all levels of American government.”

Attempts by the anti-immigrant lobby to dismantle those gains are indefensibly racist.

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