After its latest judicial setback, the anti-immigrant movement’s strategy for long-term victory is in disarray.
The centerpiece of their strategy, developed by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, Mark Krikorian at the Center for Immigration Studies, Representative Lamar Smith (R-TX), and Representative Steve King (R-IA), has been to block immigration reform at the federal level while advancing what they called “attrition through enforcement” and what Mitt Romney called “self-deportation” policies in the states. Essentially, their bet was that state and local governments could make life so miserable for undocumented immigrants that they pack their bags and leave the country voluntarily. After the latest round of judicial rulings against this approach yesterday, it is clear that the key offensive component of this strategy is in a shambles.
The U.S. Supreme Court yesterday declined to hear appeals from two towns who had enacted Draconian, anti-immigrant ordinances. The Court’s announcement means that appeals court rulings striking down anti-immigrant laws in Hazleton, PA and Farmers Branch, TX will stand. In South Carolina, the state agreed to a settlement with groups who had filed a lawsuit challenging South Carolina’s SB20 law, which had authorized state and local police to rely on “reasonable suspicion” to check the immigration status of suspects – a practice that amounts to state-sanctioned racial profiling. Yesterday, South Carolina accepted an opinion by the state Solicitor General that determined that police could not extend regular traffic stops to check immigration status. This comes on the heels of past rulings that dealt major blows to the anti-immigrant laws passed by Arizona and Alabama. And as anti-immigrant laws are being halted, new progressive, pro-immigrant laws are being adopted (see California and Washington state for recent examples).
In fact, the only place where the anti-immigrant extremists still have clout is in the Republican-controlled House where the only immigration vote taken this session was on a Steve King measure to defund the DACA program and subject DREAMers to deportation.
According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice:
Congratulations to the movement’s litigators, who have successfully fought back against a pernicious strategy aimed at driving millions of hard working immigrant families out of the country. The latest rulings skewer the self-deportation strategy of the increasingly marginalized get-rid-of-them-all crowd. Now it’s up to Congress to deliver a permanent solution and the President to do what he can to roll back deportations in the meantime.