FAIR and Unbalanced: Signs of “State Rights” Strategy to Trump Comprehensive Immigration Reform

May 5, 2009 by Rev. David L. Ostendorf
Filed under: Immigration, Politics 
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Signs are emerging that FAIR-associated candidates may be laying groundwork for a state electoral strategy aimed at trumping gains from proposed comprehensive immigration reform at the federal level.

In a strategy reminiscent of bygone “states rights” claims molded by segregationists to fight federal civil rights laws, Federation for American Immigration Reform politicos have declared for office in four states, as reported in this week’s Fair Exposed by the Center for New Community. If successful, the strategy would not only advance the restrictionist immigration agenda, but would also pose new threats to hard-won voter and civil rights.

Leading the pack, not surprisingly, is attorney Kris Kobach running for Kansas Attorney General after his thumping 2004 loss in a bid for the state’s 3rd Congressional District, where his ties to FAIR were a major campaign issue. Claiming on his website that “the illegal registration of alien voters has become pervasive in Kansas,” Kobach rails against “voter fraud” and attacks Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie for having “played a pivotal role in the heist” of the state’s still-unsettled Senate race, “manipulating the process to pacify a leftist mob.” The hardworking, nonpartisan Minnesota canvassing board, and the panel of judges who ruled in Franken’s favor, will likely be glad to know that their unanimous decision constitutes “mob action.” According to the judges’ ruling, “the election was conducted fairly, impartially, and accurately.”

Virginia State Senator Ken Cuccinelli is running for that state’s office of the Attorney General. Cuccinelli is a founding member of State Legislators for Legal Immigration, an anti-immigrant coalition that uses FAIR’s legal arm, the Immigration Reform Law Institute, to write model, restrictionist legislation for states. In the supposedly symbolic Pearl Harbor Day launch of the coalition, State Representative Daryl Metcalf of Pennsylvania stressed “states rights to end illegal alien invasion.” Ironically, Cuccinelli recently lost the endorsement of anti-immigrant firebrand Tom Tancredo to opponent John Brownlee, a former U.S. Attorney similarly committed to cracking down on “criminal illegal immigration,” in a growing battle of ardent Virginia restrictionists.

Meanwhile, FAIR-related House Immigration Reform Caucus (HIRC) members hope to take the Governor’s offices in two—and possibly three—states. Congresswoman Mary Fallin is in the race in Oklahoma, while Nathan Deal is campaigning in Georgia. Iowa’s outspoken anti-immigrant leader and HIRC member Steve King is also reportedly pondering a run for Governor in that state. HIRC, which has a membership of almost one-quarter of the U.S. House of Representatives in its drive to restrict immigration, is headed by former FAIR lobbyist and California Congressman Brian Bilbray.

These races are sobering reminders that FAIR, its anti-immigrant allies, and its closely-tied politicians foresee no end in their battle to slow or stop federal immigration reform proposals or policies. Even if comprehensive change were to be achieved, a “states rights” strategy brewing in anti-immigrant circles holds potential for tying up gains for years in unfettered legal and policy battles carried out in or by states bent on curbing both federal power and immigrant rights.

In the long-haul view of twenty-first century America, it is becoming clearer that these players and their simmering anti-immigrant forces are gearing up to advance a nationalist agenda that seeks to secure the power and resources of the now-dominant population. Sobering, indeed.

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