Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Arpaio Brings in White Nativist to Train Deputies

Arpaio announced recently that he will be having all his deputies trained to enforce federal immigration law even though the federal government ended the 287(g) agreement that allowed a few of his officers to be trained by and work with ICE (they still have the 287(g) agreement in effect within the jails where they can ask for immigration status and put ICE holds on people). Arpaio has also announced that he plans to do another "crime suppression sweep" soon.

Kris Kobach, an attorney who once worked with John Ashcroft, will be doing the 2 hour (2 hours?!) training and advising Arpaio on related matters. He has garnered some controversy already, however, for being associated with the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) and the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS). He has acted as a consultant and advisor for both organizations. As an example, FAIR's founder John Tanton and his organizations have been linked to holocaust deniers and eugenicists (more info below).

Arpaio is controversial enough as it is. I have little faith that his relationship with Kobach will make it worse. (Although Wells Fargo recently told Arpaio they want to terminate his lease agreement- which might be a good sign, although Wells Fargo is a problem also because of their relationship to private prisons). After all, Russell Pearce is also associated with FAIR. A FAIR website mentions him as a supporter. In addition, Pearce was an author of Prop 200 which FAIR provided funds and volunteers to get passed (a friend and I actually went to flier about FAIR's racist connections at a PAN rally- we ended up realizing our efforts would be in vain). Virginia Abernethy was chosen as Chair of the national advisory board for Protect Arizona Now (PAN) the group behind Prop 200, and it turned out she was a self-identified "white separatist" and probably worse (Source).

Mostly, the groups deny the accusations of being racist and then it turns out to not be a big deal. They say they're only concerned with illegal immigration and they say they accept money where it's available- that doesn't mean they agree with the organizations or people they get it from. But we can see by the actions of Arpaio and Pearce themselves that they are racist, aside from their friendliness with local racists (see Arpaio: Judged by the Company he Keeps- video and Down With Russell Pearce: Extremist/Racist Connections). I would argue that Russell Pearce or Arpaio should get the same treatment as Kobach is getting right now, if not worse. Okay, maybe Arpaio is, but what about Pearce?

In a lot of ways it takes being linked to extremists to make people change their minds about a situation or political position. But Kobach isn't quite the candidate, I'm afraid. For one, he's far more charming than J.T. Ready, and these people are good at making it seem that they're not racist. But in other ways, this is a distraction. Someone can do horrible things but doesn't have to have accepted money from or provide legal service to someone who said the holocaust didn't happen or that Mexicans are naturally more likely to commit crimes. For instance, I've brought up several times the amount of immigrants the Phoenix PD has arrested- but they're not being opposed- in fact some immigrants' rights groups are working with them!

On the plus side, learning about John Tanton and all his organizations gives me hope for all the white people who would seem to be racist. I mean, accepting all the lies at face value does make you racist, but at least it's coming more from the outside than the inside. See, Tanton and associates have been working on this anti-immigrant campaign for decades. The article The Puppeteer outlines how the opposition against immigration is far from grass roots- that it is manufactured (and likely funded by rich people who have an interest in keeping the working class divided and maintaining certain workers as eternally exploitable). Certain people in the media repeat the lies and mistruths that FAIR and associated organizations create (see Where Anti-Immigrant Zealots Like Lou Dobbs Get Their 'Facts'.

Anyway, this is a bit on Kris Kobach from the SPLC:
The man behind many of the deeply flawed anti-illegal immigrant laws passed recently is Kris Kobach, the "national expert on constitutional law" who works for the Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI). IRLI is the legal arm of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), recently listed as a nativist hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. At IRLI, Kobach has been a prime mover behind ordinances in Farmer's Branch, Texas, and Hazelton, Pa., among other places, that seek to punish those who aid and abet "illegal aliens."

Before joining IRLI, Kobach served as U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft's top immigration adviser, moving on to take charge of Department of Justice efforts to tighten border security shortly after the 9/11 attacks. There, he developed a program — the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System — that called for close monitoring of men from Arab and Muslim nations, even legal U.S. residents. The program collapsed due to complaints of racial profiling and discrimination.

In 2004, Kobach ran for Congress. (At the same time, he worked on a FAIR lawsuit against a Kansas law granting in-state tuition rates to the children of undocumented immigrants. The suit was dismissed.) Kobach lost by 11 percentage points after his opponent accused him of ties to white supremacists.

Kobach also has taught constitutional and immigration law since 2003 at the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law, but has come under attack there for anti-immigrant bias. In January 2007, for instance, fliers appeared on campus accusing Kobach of inflating his credentials and crafting bad law. In the classroom, he uses as a controversial book by political science professor Samuel Huntington that argues that today's immigrants will "divide the United States into two peoples, two cultures, two languages."

Kobach, who in 2007 became chairman of the Kansas Republican Party, is far-right Christian fundamentalist. During his 2004 campaign, he accused his opponent of associating with groups supporting "homosexual pedophilia." He was referring to the Human Rights Campaign, a mainstream gay rights organization that has never come remotely close to endorsing pedophilia.

FAIR has accepted "$1.2 million from the Pioneer Fund, a group founded to promote the genes of white colonials that funds studies of race, intelligence and genetics" (Source).

See also: The Tanton Files: FAIR Founder’s Racism Revealed

Disclaimer: Despite the fact that I source information from the Southern Poverty Law Center and appreciate the work they do to expose nativist extremists, I vastly disagree with their relationship with law enforcement and their position on radical black groups and animal and earth liberation groups and I question their motives.

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