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Their Desperate Lust for Affirmation: Dan Stein’s Alabama Fact-Checking Foul-up

Stephen Piggott • Oct 06, 2011

The anti-immigrant movement rejoiced last week with the news that most provisions of Alabama’s new anti-immigrant law were upheld in court.

One of the most controversial provisions, one that allows police officers to ask for proof of legal status during routine police stops – the politically correct phrasing for racial profiling – was also upheld; however, in the case of Arizona’s SB1070, this provision was not upheld by the judge.

Regardless, the anti-immigrant movement couldn’t conceal its collective glee at the verdict with the law’s author, the anti-immigrant movement’s star lawyer, Kris Kobach, stating rather ineloquently:

“It really helps the other states trying to fight the good fight here in stopping illegal immigration.”

The first arrest made under Alabama’s new law occurred last week when a Yemini native was taken into custody for “obstructing a government operation.” The man, Mohamed Ali Muflahi, was at the time unable to provide documentation of his legal status. Under the law, not being able to prove legal status is a misdemeanor offense.

Anti-immigrant groups aplenty opportunistically pounced on the arrest, with AL state senators drafting “a letter to US Attorney General Eric Holder demanding the Justice Department drop its legal challenges to the state’s immigration law.” One state senator stated that Yemen, Mr. Muflahi’s country of origin, is nothing more than “a growing hotbed of Islamic radicalism and an operating base for the al-Qaeda terrorist network.”

Of course, a Yemini international who is arrested in the US and who is unable to immediately provide legal status documentation must be connected in some way with the “radical” Islamic elements in his home country.

Dan Stein, president of the anti-immigrant group Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), took the attacks on Mr. Muflahi a step further by calling him an “illegal alien” in a blog post on his website. Sadly for Stein, he should have done some fact-checking before jumping the gun, as on Monday, October 3 – an entire day before Stein wrote his blog – the news broke that Mr. Muflahi’s lawyer had provided authorities with proof of his legal status here in the United States.

This slip up by Stein is quite representative of the Tanton Network’s sentimental thrust, running deeper than a simple case of not checking facts.

FAIR, and the larger anti-immigrant movement, it must be said, maintains close connections with America’s white nationalist movement, dating all the way back to the 1970s when white nationalist John Tanton founded FAIR. This founding ignited the formation of today’s anti-immigrant movement. Because Mr. Muflahi hails from the “Muslim World,” he is a seemingly ideal target for anti-immigrant groups and activists, some of which have called for a ban on all Muslim immigration to the United States.

The Alabama law and others like it are founded on the principals of white nationalism, from the laws authors, the Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI), the legal arm of FAIR, to the politicians who introduce them, like Arizona’s Russell Pearce, who is tied to neo-Nazis. Laws like this do nothing more than divide communities and demonize immigrants and people of color.

They are introduced to uphold the “rule of law,” but in all reality the only law they are upholding is Jim Crow and the legalizing of racial profiling—documented or not, it appears that many among us will be subjected to the stern threat of arrest.

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