A look into the amicus curiae briefs filed in support of Texas in the United States v. Texas Supreme Court case reads as a “who’s who” of anti-immigrant standard bearers. The signatories include some of the most extreme advocates in America, with widely documented ties to hate groups, population control advocates, profilers and birthers. These organizations and individuals have spent years pushing xenophobic efforts like Arizona’s SB1070, essentially attempting to use America’s court system as a petri dish for their agenda of hate.
Below is backgrounder on some of the groups behind specific anti-DAPA/DACA amicus briefs.
The Immigration Reform Law Institute and Federation for American Immigration Reform
The Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI) is the legal arm of John Tanton’s Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR). IRLI has helped craft anti-immigration legislation all over the country including Arizona’s infamous “self-deportation” measure SB 1070, Alabama’s HB 56, and Georgia’s HB 87. Thankfully much of these infamous profiling laws have been found unconstitutional. In U.S. v. Arizona, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the following provisions of the law: requiring all immigrants to obtain or carry immigration registration papers; making it a state criminal offense for an undocumented immigrant to seek work or hold a job; and allowing police to arrest suspected undocumented immigrants without warrants.
In 2010, Think Progress wrote that “IRLI has been behind most, if not every, local legislative immigration crackdown over the past few years.” Much of this work was driven by Kansas Secretary of State, voting rights restrictionist, advisor to Mitt Romney’s 2012 self deportation proposal and IRLI lawyer Kris Kobach.
The Washington Post reported that on the evening of President Obama’s announcement about DACA expansion and DAPA, Kobach said that he had already begun to draft a lawsuit against them and was shopping for a large border state to take it on:
“Congress could vote to defund parts of the government,” [Kobach] says, but his friends in Congress tell him that is unlikely. The other option is a lawsuit filed by states and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents against the federal government. “That one’s on me,” he says. He tells the group he has already begun drafting a suit as the lead attorney, with plans to file it in early December.
Kobach also bragged about shopping around for a large state such as Texas to take the lead, so that he could make the (false) argument that states would incur costs for these policies: “The numbers there are good for us. Illegal-alien households with kids consume a lot of resources: K-through-12 education, food stamps, earned income tax — these things add up.”
Other legal advisors to IRLI include Dale L. Wilcox, Michael M. Hethmon, and John Miano.
Wilcox is the executive director of IRLI, the former state and local director for the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), and former counsel to Judicial Watch. In January IRLI filed a motion to intervene and dismiss a lawsuit filed over the Oregon Ballot Measure 88 which would deny undocumented immigrants driver’s licenses. In a press release posted on FAIR affiliate’s Oregonians for Immigration Reform Wilcox made quite clear his feelings about undocumented immigrants:
This is a ridiculous case with no merit and is a waste of the court’s time and precious resources. The audacity of trespassers on our sovereign soil to demand taxpayer-funded benefits, like a driver’s license or card, just boggles the mind. Illegal aliens do not have a right to driving privileges, nor do they have a right to travel freely in the U.S. as federal law makes their very presence in the U.S. unlawful. In short, this case is about sour grapes as the overwhelming majority of Oregonians have spoken and rejected taxpayer-funded giveaways to those who have no legal right to be here. (OFIR, 1/14/16)
Michael M. Hethmon is the senior counsel for Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI) and a former staff attorney for the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR). At an immigration debate Hethmon described how to implement his self-deportation policies: “By making the environment for illegal aliens so inhospitable, especially in economic terms — if you can’t get a job, can’t pay rent — then maybe it’s not the good deal it’s cracked up to be.”
The Southern Poverty Law Center noted Hethmon’s disregard for the Constitution in his authoring of anti-immigrant legislation: “He has cynically said in the past that he didn’t care if these laws turned out to be unconstitutional or if fighting for them in the courts were to be financially disastrous for states and localities, which they have been.” Writing on CNN.com, Hethmon said: “Sink or swim, these new laws are forcing Congress to confront the need for enforcement-based reform.” At another time, Hethmon called the laws “field tests”—experiments aimed at testing the legality of various approaches to immigration.”
John M. Miano is a fellow at the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), an anti-immigration “think tank” founded by John Tanton; Legal Counsel for Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI); and co-author of Sold Out: How High-Tech Billionaires & Bipartisan Beltway Crapweasels Are Screwing America’s Best & Brightest Workers along with one of conservative America’s most toxic voices, Michelle Malkin.
The majority of Miano’s writing at CIS has focused on the H-1B visa program since 2008, but it’s hard to miss his work at VDARE, named after Virginia Dare (said to be the first English child born in the New World ) and an unabashedly radical website described by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) “anti-immigration hate” website. Miano has authored several articles and posts on VDARE, which regularly shares articles by “race scientists,” Klansmen, and white nationalists.
A search for Miano’s name on VDARE’s site reveals his 10+ year association with the group, during which he wrote everything from “Ten Principles of Immigration” to a bizarre open letter to Comcast about not using Spanish. He also asks the important questions like, “Where’s ICE When You Need Them?” and “How Often Do They Call Liberals Extreme?”
IRLI springs from the “Tanton Network” of anti-immigrant organizations: the triumverate of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), NumbersUSA, and the supposed “think-tank” Center for Immigration Studies. In 2007 the Southern Poverty Law Center designated FAIR as a hate group due to its extensive ties to white supremacists, including Tanton himself.
In a 1993 letter Tanton laid out the true intent behind his anti-immigrant policies: “I have come to the point of view that for European-American society and culture to persist, it requires an European-American majority and a clear one at that. I doubt very much that our traditions will be carried on by other peoples.”
As a eugenicist, population control advocate and a nativist, Tanton’s influence on immigration policies in the United States have surprisingly gone unchecked by government. In fact, many anti-immigrant members of Congress such as Congressman Steve King, and Senators Jeff Sessions, David Vitter and Ted Cruz have proposed policies authored with the support, guidance, research and endorsement from FAIR and CIS. CIS is a frequent “witness” at anti-immigrant hearings in Congress, called as “experts” to speak on every immigration topic under the sun. In fact, what they are “experts” in is scapegoating immigrants them for a wide variety of problems in society, everything from childhood obesity to global warming. They share an ideology that believes you can tell who is an immigrant by the size of their calves. Ridiculous but true.
Another of Tanton’s creations, The Social Contract Press, is known for its own race-baiting content and lauded Miano’s “Ten Principles of Immigration” in a 2009 article entitled “Reading Assignment: Gird for Looming Battles with the ‘Great Books’ of Immigration Sanity”.
Mountain States Legal Foundation
Tanton’s desire to “protect the environment” through nativist population control policies makes a strange partner to anti-abortionists as well as foundations such as the Mountain States Legal Foundation, a nonprofit whose goal is to attack environmental protections on behalf of oil, mineral and timber interests.
The Mountain States Legal Foundation (MSLF) is a conservative legal group founded in 1976 with an environmental focus. The group files other amicus curiae briefs in support of oil and mineral companies. In addition, the foundation is a recipient of Donors Trust, a fund that controls money contributed by donors that benefit rightwing causes. William Perry Pendley currently serves as president and chief legal officer of the MSLF.
MSLF also filed an amicus brief in the Arizona SB 1070 Supreme Court case, stating that ”The intent of S.B. 1070 is, through cooperative enforcement of federal immigration laws to make attrition through enforcement the public policy of all state and local government agencies in Arizona and to discourage and deter the unlawful entry and presence of aliens and economic activity by persons unlawfully present in the United States.”
In 2007 former mayor of Hazleton, Pennsylvania and current Congressman and FAIR advisor Lou Barletta asked MSLF to join his legal team, which included FAIR’s IRLI, Michael M. Hethmon and then law professor Kris Kobach. The Court found Barletta’s racial profiling law to be unconstitutional, but Pendley’s admiration for the anti-immigrant Congressman was not diminished: “We remain very proud of Mayor Barletta and the courageous people of Hazleton.”
Maricopa County Arizona “Sheriff Joe” Arpaio
Sheriff Joe Arpaio, or The Most Lawless Lawman in America, as the Atlantic’s Andrew Cohen called him, is the infamous sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona. The disgraced Arpaio is known for his targeting of minority communities, his birther attacks on President Obama, and overseeing a law enforcement department that has implemented some of the worst human rights violations in the country. At his Tent City prison immigrants are denied health care, forced to participate in chain gangs, and sex crimes have gone uninvestigated. In 2012, the Department of Justice sued Arpaio for unlawful discrimination against Latinos. During the trial countless witnesses testified to his discriminatory practices.
In a surfaced 2009 recording, Arpaio refused to cooperate with an investigation into his unlawful actions. In a speech to a Texas anti-immigrant group, he bragged about rounding up hundreds of immigrants: “After they went after me, we arrested 500 more just for spite.” The group, Texans for Immigration Reduction and Enforcement (formerly known as Texans for Immigration Reform) has close ties to FAIR.
Revisiting his birther attacks against President Obama last year, Arpaio claimed that the President’s birth certificate was a forged document: “I’ve been in law enforcement 55 years, I think I know a fraudulent, fake document. I’m not a computer expert. I rely on my people. But I’m pretty well convinced it’s a fake document.”
At an October 2013 rally on Capitol hill called for a revolution to force President Obama to leave town: “This president is not a president of We the People; he’s a president of his people… I do not advocate violent revolution; to the contrary … I call upon all of you to wage a second American nonviolent revolution, to use civil disobedience, and to demand that this president leave town, to put the Koran down, to get up off his knees, and to figuratively come out with his hands up.”
Arpaio has endorsed mass deportation advocate Donald Trump for President, stating: “Donald Trump is a leader. He produces results and is ready to get tough in order to protect American jobs and families. I have fought on the front lines to prevent illegal immigration. I know Donald Trump will stand with me and countless Americans to secure our border.”
He also has a long history with IRLI counsel Kris Kobach. Kobach helped author Arizona’s SB 1070, which Arpaio backed. They have appeared together at press conferences in the past.
Larry Klayman serves as Counsel to Arpaio on this brief, as well as the Arpaio v. U.S. lawsuit which was thrown out by a DC Federal Court. Klayman is the founder of Freedom Watch, Judicial Watch, and contributes regularly to a number of off-beat conservative sites.
In a column for World Net Daily, Klayman mourned the “Ethical Decline of Liberal Jewish Intelligentsia”: “I am more than embarrassed and appalled as a Jew to see my own people at the forefront of a number of scandals now perpetrated by the Muslim-in-Chief, Barack Hussein Obama, and his leftist Jewish government comrades and partners in crime.”
He also called for militiamen to take on “government goons”: “This country belongs to us, not you. This land is our land! And, we will fight you will [sic] all legal means, including exercising our legitimate Second Amendment rights of self-defense, to end your tyranny and restore freedom to our shores!”
The American Center for Law and Justice and the Committee to Defend the Separation of Powers
The American Center for Law and Justice is an organization that has worked tirelessly in the dismantling of Roe v. Wade, and whose chief counsel Jay Sekulow argued on behalf of pro-life advocates. Sekulow once argued that women seeking abortions should not be protected under the Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871 as they were not a class of people being discriminated against.
In an op-ed for Fox News Sekulow regurgitated classic anti-immigrant stereotypes: “We’ve got a porous, dangerous border, a flood of illegal immigrants whose increasing numbers drive down wages and can overburden social services, and we’ve got millions of people in the country who are looking for some form of permanent status.”
To defend Arizona’s notorious anti-immigrant bill SB 1070, ACLJ collaborated with IRLI to file multiple amicus briefs in courts on behalf of U.S. lawmakers. In a press release, Sekulow referred to the law as being a sound piece of legislation that prohibited discrimination: “The Arizona immigration law is a sound and constitutional approach to addressing illegal immigration…It does not invite racial profiling – it prohibits it.”
Center for Constitutional Jurisprudence
John C. Eastman, Counsel and Founding Director of the Center for Constitutional Jurisprudence and Professor of Law at Chapman University has written extensively on birthright citizenship.
In National Review, he wrote that giving citizenship to children born in the United States to undocumented immigrants was a misunderstanding of the law: “So, truth be told, the 14th Amendment does not need to be repealed in order to fix the problem of birthright citizenship for the children of illegal immigrants. It just needs to be understood and applied correctly.”
In another op-ed, Eastman said SB 1070 “will be a good experiment in an ‘enforcement first’ strategy, while the administration and Congress continue to debate, ad nauseam, a comprehensive immigration reform.” The Center also filed an amicus brief in that case.
Eagle Forum Education and Legal Defense Fund
The Eagle Forum is an anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim and anti-women’s rights group headed by the infamous North American Union conspiracy theorist Phyllis Schlafly. The President and Founder of the group authored the outrageously false report on immigration titled “How Mass (Legal) Immigration Dooms a Conservative Republican Party,” in which she laments that an “immigrant invasion” would threaten the stability of the United States.
Schlafly has also endorsed mass deportation advocate Donald Trump for President: “People recognize that is the biggest thing. In the first place, it’s just about destroying our schools. All of these kids, who can’t read in any language, are coming in and expecting to be taught by our English-speaking teachers. And it’s not going to work. And yet we have to babysit them all day.”
She has attempted to gin up fear about Central American children coming as refugees, declaring without proof that they “may be carrying staph infections, chickenpox, and scabies, which is a highly contagious skin disease that causes massive itching due to burrowing mites, plus diseases that the U.S. eradicated in our country years ago, such as tuberculosis, Chagas disease, dengue fever, hepatitis, malaria, and measles.”
Schafly has also articulated a belief that the Obama Administration’s immigration policies are an attempt to grow the Democratic Party through illegal voting: “The Obama Democrats have an audacious scheme for winning future elections. They just plan to import 5 million non-citizens and credential them as voters who will, in gratitude, vote Democratic. In case the illegal aliens need spending money, they can collect a special handout from the U.S. taxpayers called Earned Income Tax Credit, which was designed to help parents who are working to support their families.”
National Sheriffs’ Association, The Remembrance Project, and American Unity Legal Defense Fund
When this case was still before the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, the National Sheriffs’ Association (NSA), along with anti-immigrant group The Remembrance Project, join on to a brief authored by IRLI. This time, the NSA and The Remembrance Project have filed their own amicus brief.
The NSA’s collaboration with FAIR, IRLI, and anti-immigrant elected officials is widely documented. In an April 1, 2015 press release promoting its annual “Hold Their Feet to the Fire” media and citizen lobbying event, leading anti-immigrant group FAIR noted “members of the National Sheriffs Association” would be in attendance. FAIR was also a sponsor of the NSA’s Winter 2015 conference in Washington, DC.
NSA Executive Director Jonathan Thompson issued a statement affirming the NSA’s public support for Bristol County Sheriff Thomas Hodgson’s controversial December 10, 2014 press event in Washington DC. Thompson was a featured speaker at FAIR’s 2015 Border Summit in McAllen, Texas. Other speakers include anti-government extremist Richard Mack. The Border Summit also included a trip to the headquarters of border vigilante group Texas Border Volunteers.
It is often said: tell me who your friends are, and I’ll tell you who you are. Texas’ arguments in the DACA+/DAPA Supreme Court case are being backed by a radical group of rightwing personalities and organizations with extreme, bigoted, and reprehensible views. This is a purely political case driven by a nefarious ideology, once that we hope the Justices will see right through.