Heidi Beirich, SPLC, January 4, 2011
On Wednesday, legislators from the anti-immigrant organization State Legislators for Legal Immigration (SLLI) will announce at the National Press Club their plan to halt what they call “the misapplication of the 14th Amendment.” The group seeks to end the amendment’s provision of birthright citizenship, which assured that the children of slaves could not be denied citizenship, and ensures that almost all children born on U.S. soil are automatically granted American citizenship.
SLLI is a coalition of about 70 legislators in 38 states dedicated to eliminating “economic attractions” for immigrants and their “unlawful invasion” of the U.S. SLLI leader Daryl Metcalf of Pennsylvania has a long history of making nasty anti-immigrant comments, including referring to undocumented immigrants as “foreign invaders” and their children as “anchor bab[ies].” In October, Metcalf announced a new SLLI task force to attack birthright citizenship. “This ongoing distortion and twisting of the 14th Amendment greatly incentivized foreign invaders to violate our border,” Metcalf said at an October press conference.
This harsh rhetoric isn’t surprising given the relationship between Metcalf, SLLI and the anti-immigrant hate group, Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR). SLLI is often described as the legislative arm of FAIR, which is apt given the group says on its website that it has a “working partnership” with FAIR. SLLI’s legislators are the main instigators behind favored FAIR initiatives, including attempts at the state level to deny immigrants various rights through laws modeled on Arizona’s S.B. 1070.
FAIR’s designation as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center is well deserved. FAIR’s founder and chief ideologue, John Tanton, has repeatedly questioned the “educability” of immigrants. He has corresponded with Holocaust deniers, former Klan lawyers and the leading white nationalist thinkers of the era. He introduced key FAIR leaders to the president of the Pioneer Fund, a white supremacist group set up to encourage “race betterment,” at a 1997 meeting at a private club.
FAIR’s history of racism is far more extensive than described here. Prominent FAIR staffers have held membership or written for other hate groups, in particular the Council of Conservative Citizens, which has described African Americans as a “retrograde species of humanity.” The group has received funding from the neo-Nazi Pioneer Fund.
Apparently, FAIR’s nasty track record of hate is of no bother to Metcalf or SLLI. Their press conference Wednesday will feature FAIR lawyers Kobach–who is the newly elected secretary of state of Kansas–and Michael Hethmon as speakers.