The Hatewatch blog is managed by the staff of the Intelligence Project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, an Alabama-based civil rights organization.

Legislators Work with Anti-Immigrant Hate Group to Gut 14th Amendment

By Heidi Beirich on January 4, 2011 - 2:47 pm, Posted in Anti-Immigrant

FAIR President Dan Stein (second from left) poses with State Legislators for Legal Immigration members.

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.

Children born to the undocumented have long been a bugaboo for the anti-immigrant movement, which derisively refers to these new American citizens as “anchor babies” – purportedly used by their parents to gain U.S. citizenship for themselves.

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.

Written by FAIR lawyer Kris Kobach and passed last April, S.B. 1070 is a harsh anti-immigrant measure that makes the failure of non-citizens to carry immigration documents a crime and obligates police to check immigration status when there is “reasonable suspicion” that someone is undocumented. It is currently held up in federal court, as are many anti-immigrant laws originally written and promoted by FAIR.

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. He encouraged a major financial supporter to read the work of anti-Semitic professor Kevin MacDonald — to “give you a new understanding of the Jewish outlook on life” — and suggested that the entire FAIR board discuss the professor’s repugnant theories on the Jews.

Tanton went so far as to propose creating a “League for European-American Defense, Education and Research” or LEADERs, to use Tanton’s acronym. LEADERs would defend “ourselves and our tradition against attacks,” counter “the denigration of Western culture” which Tanton wrote is “under siege,” and stop the “reduction of the European-American demographic and cultural majority to minority status.” (For more on Tanton’s anti-immigrant racism, read here).

But Tanton, who has been steadfastly defended by FAIR’s leadership, isn’t the only FAIR leader to bash immigrants or cavort with racist organizations. Dan Stein, the group’s president, has warned that immigrants are engaged in “competitive breeding” aimed at diminishing white power. He has also said that, “Immigrants don’t come all church-loving, freedom-loving, God-fearing…Many of them hate America, hate everything the United States stands for.” Stein also described the 1965 Immigration Act, which ended the racial quotas that had restricted American immigration to Northern Europeans, as “a key mistake in national policy” and a “source of error.”

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. (For a full accounting of why the Southern Poverty Law Center lists FAIR as a hate group, please read here.)

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.

  • Scott

    After reading this article and the postings from readers here, I was moved to go to the SLLI website and see if there were any members from my home state of Connecticut. Lo and behold there was one. So I wrote him this:

    Hello there,

    I am not one of your direct constituents, but have recently found out about the racist SLLI that you seem to be a member of, and as a citizen of Connecticut and the United States of America I am appalled that any politician from Connecticut (or anywhere, for that matter!) could be a member of a so blatantly racist organization.

    A little background: My dad was a survivor of Auschwitz-Birkenau, so through simply being alive in the world, and from my own lifelong study of history in general and the Holocaust specifically, I know that the SLLI embodies those ideals the Nazi party also espoused. You, sir, by your affiliation with SLLI now also are following the same dangerous path. It seems strange to me that the anti-immigration crowd focuses almost exclusively on those “illegal” immigrants that have dark colored skin, but forget that a large portion of “illegal” immigration comes from European countries, especially those of the former Eastern block. Why are they rarely mentioned? Because in a time of economic peril for large majorities of a citizenry it is always easiest to blame those that are easily separated and mostly powerless and to make those people scapegoats.

    Now you may try and use whatever rhetoric you can to make me believe that SLLI is only advocating legal immigration, but if that were true you would be also advocating the relaxation of regulations that would allow those who wish to come here legally to work and find a better life for themselves and their families. But, no you and yours are now attempting to get momentum up to repeal the 14th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, this while those of your particular political bent claim to only want to _follow_ the Constitution to it’s letter.

    As Bruce Cockburn wrote: “We see through you”.


  • aadila

    Deft said,

    on January 7th, 2011 at 12:29 pm

    Wanting to enforce immigration laws does not consitute “hate”.

    Obama has deported more people than any President. What laws aren’t being enforced?

  • skinnyminny

    I had mentioned Armenian, because, I’m not sure if you’re aware of the Principles of non-Refoulement, it’s an international law. But, Krikorian and all of these anti-immigrant groups should be aware of this law.

  • skinnyminny


    Not sure if you know this, but, Krikorian is an Armenian name. Anytime, or should I say, most of the time there is ‘ian’ in a last name it is more than likely an Armernian name.


    Thanks for the laugh. I don’t know what I’d do without reading your comments!
    Perhaps we could start recommending these type folks to move to Easter Islands, there’s no way they can change the demographics of this country now (meaning an all-white America). Wow! I couldn’t get enough laughs about Eastern Europe…

  • ruben

    the disgusting climate of hate that has gripped arizona has claimed its first victims….hopefully congresswoman gifford will pull through,the sheriff is right when he said that arizona is now the mecca of hate in the u.s…but according to tony sporano that is no big deal just let the right wing hate mongers masquerading as politicians (pearce,tanton) continue to call the shots they are harmless…baloney!! these weasels are nothing but grade a bigots and cowards who do not have balls to do the dirty work so they brainwash other week minded people to do it for them….and unfortunately i think that this is only the beginning of more violence to come as long as the far right continues to scapegoat and demonize…..if you are a right wing/republican politician in arizona and want to be elected these days forget running on a platform of intelligent and creative ways to the states and countries problems….instead hate….hate and more hate and you will be elected….and to think that many naive people want the same kind of bigotry that now runs most of the arizona government exported to other states…this country is in serious trouble.

  • Steven

    America is a nation of immigrants, it has never been a monoracial nation. Since it was founded, whites have brought Africans for slave labor, Chinese to make railroads as “coolies,” Amerindians lived here for thousands of years, and even large parts of the Southwest like California and Texas were inhabited by Mexicans.

    For FAIR and John Tanton to lobby for denial of citizenship to immigrants because of their skin color or national origin is abhorrent and reprehensible. The fact is Americans have been living in a multicultural and multiracial country for hundreds of years and to single out one year as in 1965 as a “key mistake in national policy” is absurd.

  • skinnyminny

    I knew this was some sort of diversion! I saw on the news (here’s the source – on Friday, 1-7-2011, that the truckers from Mexico to travel on U.S. roadways are getting a push from U.S. businesses. The news also reported that the unionized truckers in the U.S. will be angry. *This was reported on cctv, a Chinese english station. So, my question is, how are they going to control immigration when businesses are behind this, and the GOP is supported by businesses?

  • DooLeeoo

    The rather innocuous claim to be for the enforcement of existing immigration laws is merely a cloak for the real agenda of FAIR, CIS, and NumbersUSA. They are anti immigrant, legal or not. Read and research a bit about them and it becomes clear that they want to preserve white dominance/supremacy in America. They paint immigrants as the disease-ridden refuse of non-euro countries (latin american in particular) who will destroy White America. Its disconcerting to read their rhetoric and watch Krikorian strutting around claiming to represent a “think tank” when they are in fact a nativist hate group. Look at the cover art of Krikorian’s book–the Statue of Liberty has dropped her torch and is holding up her hand in a “stop” gesture. Read his book and you will understand his viewpoints apply to all non-white immigrants, not just the illegals. He is a racist scumbucket.

  • Ruslan Amirkhanov

    Oooh we got us a live one here!!!

    “Actually our current immigration situation is great. By keeping the border open to the third world and force white people to subsidise them.”

    Immigrants are not subsidized by US citizens(many of whom are not white), and more than US citizens are. Non-citizens of the US are only entitled to a fraction of America’s weak social welfare programs unlike US citizens.

    ” It seems that people illegally in the country are entitled to free education,healthcare and welfare at the expense of white people.”

    Incorrect, they are only entitled to emergency medical care(like any American), and perhaps public school education for their children. They are not entitled for welfare of any kind, nor do they get social security despite the fact that many pay into it, according to the social security administration itself. It is ridiculous to suggest that these people are doing nothing while leeching off the system. In case you hadn’t noticed, who’s actually building all those lovely homes and shopping centers?

    And again, are you claiming that only white people in America pay taxes?

    “This will prevent white people from having their own white children.”

    DURP!!! Nope, because as I said before, immigrants don’t qualify for all the benefits you think they do. Moreover, Americans have the lowest tax burden in the industrialized world, not to mention the fact that there are plenty of non-white taxpayers. Nothing is stopping white people from having more children if they wanted to, save for perhaps unemployment and stagnant wages. Hmm…who’s responsible for that? Oh right, white business owners.

    ” Between the race mixing propaganda and the crimes committed by non-whites against whites.”

    Race mixing propaganda- is that what you’re blaming your failure to find a mate on?

    ” Eventually whites will die out just like Tim Wise wants.”

    You are aware that Tim Wise never said this right? Tim Wise also considers himself white.

    “Oh and any one who objects to the incremental genocide of their race we just call them racist. Perfect.”

    It’s hard to believe that a country with a mostly white ruling class is committing genocide against whites. Are whites being forced to marry non-whites? Are they not allowed to have children? Are they profiled by police? Are they forced by the state to leave their houses and neighborhoods? Do they have fewer civil rights than other groups? Are they not allowed to work in certain jobs?

    You had better look up the definition of genocide some day.

    “Oh and any one who think deporting people to a place like mexico must hate mexicans.”

    One would expect people who hate Mexicans to get so upset about a federal misdemeanor while not wanting to do anything to make it easier for people to immigrate legally.

    ” Mean what makes mexico such a bad place to live.Its full of mexicans.”

    Yeah, that’s brilliant. Why’s Eastern Europe such a bad place to live? Oh right, it’s full of lily-white people. Why was Europe such a bad place to live centuries ago? It was full of white people. Can you see the idiocy of that statement?

  • Tonysoprano

    Actually our current immigration situation is great. By keeping the border open to the third world and force white people to subsidise them. It seems that people illegally in the country are entitled to free education,healthcare and welfare at the expense of white people.This will prevent white people from having their own white children. Between the race mixing propaganda and the crimes committed by non-whites against whites. Eventually whites will die out just like Tim Wise wants. Oh and any one who objects to the incremental genocide of their race we just call them racist. Perfect.Oh and any one who think deporting people to a place like mexico must hate mexicans. Mean what makes mexico such a bad place to live.Its full of mexicans. Maybe the splc needs to move to mexico.

  • EarleyDaysYet

    @ Herbert: I try not to grammer-bash on these posts, but… “kuo-kuo” has to be the most illogical spelling attempt ive seen here. It’s a “cuckoo” clock.
    @ Fredric: please, let’s use the term “Christianists” to describe the loonies. They defame those of us who are Christians in more than name alone!

  • Ruslan Amirkhanov

    Easies way to control the borders- reform immigration and work visa laws. Then only criminals will be running through the desert, while those who want to work will come legally. But for some bizarre reason, the anti-immigration lobby doesn’t want to do this.

  • Fredric L. Rice

    It’s a shame that *legitimate* immigration controls are swamped by racist hate-filled Christian cultists. We need to control our borders, absolutely, but any hope of reason is demolished due to hate-filled Christians flooding the arena with their racist lunacy.

  • Ruslan Amirkhanov

    Sorry Deft, but there is no legal support for your “treason” claim. If that were the case, anyone wanting to change any law would be guilty of treason, such as those who wish to decriminalize drug use.

    These people are obsessed with strict enforcement of a federal misdemeanor, a pretty small time crime, and it’s clear that the US’ immigration laws are inadequate and are leading to violations of that particular law. Would you like all such laws enforced to such a degree?

  • http://yahoo ruben

    i was watching the news last night and saw the republicans read the constitution and swear that they would govern by it no matter what…..i just laughed!!…aren’t they the same fools that are crying the loudest to change it…..i guess these days republican and hypocrisy are the same thing.

  • Deft

    Wanting to enforce immigration laws does not consitute “hate”.

    Opposing those individuals attempting to enforce immigration laws is a form of treason.

  • GW

    The problem is that no one really understands the 14th ammendment. Besides, we are not living in a democracy anyway. We all know that right?

  • Snorlax

    The only way to change the 14th Amendment is to repeal it by another amendment. Like how they repealed Prohibition in 1933. Not an easy thing to do.

  • skinnyminny

    I forgot to add, everyone that I know working public/private sector gets 2-5% raises. Everyone I know that is on SSI or other government assistance gets a 1-3% cost-of-living raise. So again, let’s think 22.5% raise at a time when the non-rich is getting much more poor!

  • skinnyminny

    The point everyone is missing – it’s all a diversion. They are trying to get the populations fighting against each other. Last night in El Monte, Califas, believe it or not, the school board tried to get a 22.5% raise. That’s right, a 22.5% raise!

    Now, let’s look at this picture, school teachers across the nation have been laid off and other public sector workers have been laid off, pay-frozen…while the elected officials complain that the workers’ pensions and unions are draining the budgets (never mind the fact that these local elected officials get their pensions from the same pension plans as the workers – remember the million-dollar man from Bell, Califas.) These elected officials are still taking trips across the nation and to foreign countries (former Gov. Schwarzegger went to China’s Expo, Russia saying that he was going to try to bring jobs back. NJ’s Christie was here in Califas attending campaign rallies for either Whitman/Fiorina or both, at the same time he was laying off state workers).

    What’s happening is they are trying to trim the bottom (workers) while fattening the top (management). Oh yeah, in Califas, the state workers were forced to take days off without pay, the state elected officials were forced to take a small cut in pay. The state elected officials have filed a lawsuit and will be getting their pay retroactive (meaning backpay), but the workers are still facing layoffs.

    Because of the movement happening here in Califas, members of the community packed the El Monte school district during the meeting to oppose the raises. As far as we know, the board will not get a 22.5% raise. It was the community that protested in Bell that had some city council members resign, and some facing criminal/civil charges.

  • Sheila

    Yep…. thats our Sen. Rusell Pearce,they say he reps me..but HE DOES NOT!!!!

  • Herbert E. Larson

    Once again what is old is now new in times of difficulty people will always look for an easy scapegoat. The best you can say about them is they are not attacking any religion just people here to but food on the table at home. I do not know how it was done but all of these people had their brains replaced with kuo-kuo clock parts and every hour and bird sounds in their head. When in the presence of another with the parts they can both hear the bird and they know they are with another cluck.

  • Emma Onawa

    Has anyone told these loonies that these American citizen anchor babies can do nothing for their undocumentend parents until they’re 21 years old? Even then, it would be difficult with unlawful presence restrictions. As we know, it’s really just about hate.

  • Carol

    Sorry to have asked for list — SLLI has a website and they have a breakdown of members from 40 states. Mind boggling.

  • Carol

    Is there a list of the “about 70″ state legislators? If so, it needs to be published – and soon. Many thanks for all that you do.

  • Charmaine

    Thank you Robert. Is anyone else saying silly in their head when they see SLLI?

  • John Molina

    Oh, they’re cute. They call themselves “constitutionalists” except when it comes to this amendment.

  • John Molina

    Mr. Bright, one can say that about a lot of single-issue groups.

  • Ian

    Thank you, Robert.

  • Ruslan Amirkhanov

    If this isn’t about race, and they really just want immigration to be limited to legal immigration, why aren’t they doing anything to reform America’s incredibly complicated visa system? If immigration from Mexico and Latin America were more streamlined and practical, the majority of those few still braving the desert to cross illegally would be drug and women traffickers, and the Border Patrol would be free to focus on them.

  • Robert Steinback

    In response to Ian:

    The Fourteenth Amendment includes this wording: “All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.”

    The phrase “subject to the jurisdiction thereof” is generally interpreted as recognizing that children born to foreign diplomats residing here are not granted U.S. citizenship even if they are born within our borders. This is because, thanks to diplomatic immunity, foreign diplomats and their children are exempted from the the jurisdiction of the United States. (It is why accredited diplomats caught spying, for example, are just expelled, not prosecuted)

    Some, including anti-immigration activist Arizona State Sen. Russell Pearce and conservative pundit Ann Coulter have tried to suggest that the language “subject to the jurisdiction thereof” excludes undocumented aliens. But clearly the U.S. has jurisdiction over any non-diplomat foreigner within its borders — or else police couldn’t arrest them for committing crimes, which they obviously can and do. The argument that the clause denies automatic citizenship to the children of undocumented aliens born here is nonsense.

    Robert Steinback
    Deputy Editor, Hatewatch
    Southern Poverty Law Center

  • skinnyminny

    Ooh! This is funny! I take it that Stein hasn’t heard the rumors that Mr. Julian A. is not a fan of America, or maybe so, that some of the GOP wants him extradited to the U.S. By the way, it is alleged Mr. J. is being funded by Sweden’s neo-Nazis.

    It’s also interesting that these guys think everyone just loves them. They also think that because their heritage is European that they are immediately accepted in Europe. Ha, this is just too funny!

  • Ian

    Why does it say “almost” all children born in the United States are citizens?

  • ModerateMike

    This news is not particularly surprising. I was already disappointed by the failure of Congress to enact the Dream Act, wondering why Senator Sessions and others invoked the stock argument that it would have been a “reward for lawbreakers”. After all, how many people really think that people who were sneaked into the country by their parents when they were young children had any say in the matter?

    But I had forgotten that the Tanton-founded organizations are less interested in the circumstances that led people to the U.S. than they are with their presence. For FAIR, the issue of illegal immigration is merely a convenient pretext to act upon their long-standing objective: to preserve the dominance of the white race and white culture by removing as many non-whites from the country as possible. Unfortunately, I have had a difficult time trying to explain the connection between FAIR and elected officials to my friends and acquaintances without sounding like a ranting conspiracy theorist.

    Meanwhile, Mark Krikorian (from the Center for Immigration Studies, another Tanton-founded group) continues to be taken seriously by the mainstream media, having appeared recently in the New York Times and on NPR. His NYT column seemed innocuous enough, talking about congressional inaction on immigration and attributing that to the fact that opinions on immigration cross party lines, and indeed, that was the case with the Dream Act, as 3 Republicans and 5 Democrats broke ranks to vote for and against it, respectively. But in that same column, he described himself as an “immigration hawk”, and that should have raised some red flags for those who thought that CIS was merely a group of dispassionate researchers. That said, Mr. Krikorian otherwise avoided making racist or inflammatory remarks, and it will be difficult for me to convince people that he is anything more than what he appears to be.

    Still, I continue to believe that we can best moderate the debate on immigration by challenging the most strident opponents of compassionate reform to elaborate upon the specific goals that they are trying to achieve, rather than merely accusing them of racism. Is there not inherent value in allowing someone to remain in the country so that he or she can provide support and guidance to his or her children, and continue to patronize U.S. businesses? Those are the questions that we should be asking our lawmakers.

  • Mitch Beales

    The effect of denying citizenship to folks who were born here, have lived here all there lives, and have no place else to go will be to create a class that lives in constant fear of discovery and deportation and is thus subject to victimization and exploitation. Does anyone even know if another country would admit deportees who were born here? I doubt that the creation of an easily exploitable class is the intent of FAIR or SLLI but it should be of concern to all fair minded citizens and especially to those whose jobs can easily be taken by the slave class that is being created.

  • Matthew Bright

    I guess one of the downsides to living in a democracy is that antisocial types with various other mental disorders are able to play their pathology out on a public stage, bringing misery to people outside their immediate circle.

    These people appear to be in need of an exorcist, but in reality what they need is a good psychotherapist. Too bad we don’t have a public health care system that would pay for it. Because Lord knows, we’re certainly paying for it in suffering.

  • An American Voter

    How in the heck did we vote these types of people to office!?!? I mean I could care less for illegal immigrants and neo-Nazis, but who in the world would vote racists into our government!

    Out with the Pioneer Fund! And someone brainwash John Tanton!