Copycat Bills Aim at Illegal Immigrants

The push to criminalize undocumented immigrants, as seen most poignantly in the recent legislation adopted in Arizona, is growing. Many more states are seeing anti-immigrant bills introduced in their legislatures, backed by the far-right group Federation for American Immigration Reform

Check out this informative essay by Seth Freed Wessler at Colorlines. –JCL


The growing number of immigration-enforcement bills in state legislatures around the country are not merely following Arizona’s lead. Rather, the bills—which legislators have discussed or introduced in at least 11 states—are the fruits of a concerted political strategy seeded by the far-right group Federation for American Immigration Reform, which has taken money from a eugenics foundation and was created by a man who warned of a “Latin onslaught.” 

In a majority of the states where legislation has been proposed or discussed, the leading lawmakers behind the bills are associated with FAIR’s legislative arm, a group called State Legislators for Legal Immigration (SLLI) that operates in at least 35 states. FAIR was founded over 30 years ago by John Tanton, who is widely credited with spurring the contemporary anti-immigrant movement. Over the past three decades Tanton has expanded FAIR’s reach by cultivating a network of associated organizations, each of which plays a distinct role in the anti-immigrant movement’s infrastructure. 

According the the Center for New Community in Chicago, that network includes the Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI), credited with helping to write SB 1070, and the Center for Immigration Studies, a think tank which is regularly used as a source by major newspapers including the New York Times.

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