Our VoiceImmigrationNews & Politics

#EPICFAIL: Views on State Legislation Dividing Anti-Immigrant Groups


Brian Schultz • Jun 30, 2011

On June 15, the nation’s silliest newspaper published an even sillier article by a not-so-silly man.

The very serious Kris Kobach, of counsel for the Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI), wrote a short diatribe maligning Rep. Lamar Smith’s (R-TX) national E-Verify bill (HR 2164) in the New York Post.

Citing a covert “amnesty,” Kobach claims that HR 2164 makes all the wrong compromises for the wrong reasons; in effect, it could nullify more stringent measures at the state level—measures that Kobach wrote.

But Kobach’s state initiatives were plagued well before Smith’s bill, burdened with protracted and expensive lawsuits that have barred them from implementation. Of his two comprehensive restriction measures, both face massive legal hurdles before they’ll ever be recognized: the newly-signed Alabama law must now confront lawsuits from several civil liberties groups, and Arizona’s infamous SB 1070 is still awaiting its day in the Supreme Court.

These cases point to a recurring phenomenon in state legislation, in that it’s becoming more and more difficult to pass. Once comprising the shining star “legal arm” of an anti-immigrant network founded by white-nationalist John Tanton, Kobach and IRLI are now becoming isolated along with their increasingly beleaguered state-level models.

Contributing to this trend, the following bills exhibit similar difficulties:

  • Much like in Alabama, South Carolina’s brand new anti-immigrant law now faces the predicted onslaught of lawsuits, which could prevent the exercise of its measures.
  • Courts in Indiana, Georgia, and Utah have already issued injunctions against the recently passed, harshly restrictive laws in those states.
  • Opposition from the business community recently killed a Texas bill, aimed at so-called “sanctuary cities” that blatantly repudiate anti-immigrant policies.

And before these failures, local governments had already begun gawking at proposed anti-immigrant measures. Though this sort of legislation might be seen as buttressing Mr. Kobach’s agenda, city and state officials are beginning to recognize the roundabout legal process that these bills are destined to endure—a process that is almost always paid for by taxpayers.

Moreover, his belief in state-lead initiatives is continually distancing Kobach from his erstwhile allies in the Tanton network, who generally prefer to throw their weight behind federal legislation. This growing fissure has already produced overt conflict within the anti-immigrant movement, most notably in the public spat between Kobach and renowned Tanton-affiliate Mark Krikorian.

And with ever-growing opposition to the state-level restrictionist legislation, the anti-immigrant movement seems also destined to divide its own house.

Such opposition, then, is becoming a win-win for all those who oppose their draconian, bigoted worldview.

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