2011 was a bittersweet year for State Legislators for Legal Immigration (SLLI). As a coalition of lawmakers committed to a nativist program, SLLI depends on its constituents to vilify immigrants and pass exclusionary legislation; additionally, it’s little more than a shill for the John Tanton Network, an assemblage of anti-immigrant organizations known for their racist harangues and frequent collaborations with the far-right.
The last thing SLLI wanted, then, was the monumental passage of the California DREAM Act in October. Even less did it want the repeal effort to fail, as indicated by California assemblyman and SLLI member Tim Donnelly last week. Donnelly, apparently the image of composure, operates a website called “Stop the CA Nightmare Act,” on which he posted a despondent admission that his “herculean effort” fell 50,000 signatures short of the amount needed for a referendum.
And, if you’ll remember from yesterday’s blog, Donnelly found himself in more hot water after trying to board a plane with a loaded handgun earlier this month. For this, he claims, immigrants are also to blame: allegedly receiving death threats while doing his patriotic duty to keep immigrants out of college, he was prompted to tote a firearm in his briefcase without a concealed carry license.
Donnelly has had a troubled 2012, but for another SLLI member, 2011 was decidedly worse.
Russell Pearce, former president of the Arizona Senate, made himself the first recalled state legislator in that state’s history. Pearce, a virulent nativist known for his affable rapport with neo-Nazis, enjoyed popular support in Arizona’s 18th District for several years; but even after outspending his competition by a generous margin, he lost a recall election led by civil rights groups in Arizona, effectively ending a career wrought with some of the harshest anti-immigrant legislation in the country.
In the last year, SLLI has also lost State Representative from Missouri, David Day (R-148), who inexplicably disappeared from the organization’s website. Even still, the legislative alliance has made some alarming strides in 2011 as well.
SLLI has added several new members since March, 2011, including Sheila Butt of Tennessee. Three more hail from Maryland’s 31st District, including veteran legislator Don Dwyer and freshman Neil Parrott—the latter of whom was largely responsible for the suspension of the Maryland DREAM Act. While working closely with Help Save Maryland, an anti-immigrant group also linked to the Tanton Network, Parrott assisted a petition drive that will now put the state’s in-state tuition bill to a referendum, which he hopes will preclude undocumented students from receiving it.
Thus, 2011 was a mixed bag for SLLI, and if the last month has been any indication, it has its work cut out for it in 2012. However, considering the successes it did manage to wrangle out of the last year, no one should overlook the menace posed by the coalition: it might be off to a rough start, but SLLI will surely rear its more productive head within the next twelve months.