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

New SPLC Report: Nativist Laws Cost Towns Millions, Inflame Racism

By Heidi Beirich on January 24, 2011 - 12:21 pm, Posted in Anti-Immigrant

Today, the Southern Poverty Law Center released a new report, “When Mr. Kobach Comes to Town: Nativist Laws & the Communities They Damage.” The report analyzes the disastrous aftermath for communities that have enacted local ordinances aimed at punishing undocumented immigrants. Last year, the first statewide version of these laws was passed in Arizona. Several other states and communities are also considering such legislation.

The report examines the role of Kris Kobach, the lawyer most responsible for these ordinances. For the better part of the past six years, Kobach has been chief legal counsel to the Immigration Reform Law Institute, the legal arm of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR). The SPLC lists FAIR as a hate group because of its promotion of white nationalism and its longstanding ties to prominent white supremacists.

In addition to the Arizona statute, Kobach helped write and defend nativist ordinances in Hazleton, Pa.; Valley Park, Mo.; Farmers Branch, Texas; and Fremont, Neb.

For those communities who have worked with Kobach, the results have been devastating. As the new SPLC report documents, these harsh anti-immigrant laws have burdened taxpayers with millions in legal expenses and destroyed the business climate and downtown business districts in these communities.

The four towns and one state examined in this report also saw a crisis in race relations as conflicts between Latino immigrants and mostly white natives escalated. Latinos reported being threatened, shot at, subjected to racial taunts and more. Angry protests and counter-protests have rocked one town after another. Pro-immigrant activists have been threatened with notes that promise to “shed blood” to “take back” communities. For these communities, the aftermath of these laws has simply been a trail of tears.

  • Ruslan Amirkhanov

    Pamela, Obama’s “new direction” has led to far more anti-immigrant measures.

  • stephen hicks

    When I was growing up I was cared for by Mexican, Black and German immigrants. They were wonderful to us kids. They needed work and it was available (the 50s)

    States like Arizona should be punished for what they have done in the past dating back to Goldwater and Sheriff RPIEO is a disgrace.

    I often wonder why the US doesn’t call out Mexico on it’s corruption – that of having a per capita income of $14,000 yet millions of poor that for 60 years at least, have risked their lives to enter our country.

    Hate? How ’bout people who shoot immigrants for sport (it was not to long ago I heard about this along the San Diego – Mexico border, and I wonder if it still goes one). The Wall is pathetic.

    We should expedite the citizenship of all immigrants and encourage more Muslim immigrants. India has 13% Muslims. Immigrants have the same problem in the US that Americans would have elsewhere – allegiance to their customs and demands put on them by the host nation. This is how Christians get into trouble abroad.

    True globalization is integrating culture and economies – let’s start doing it. Muslims hate our actions that don’t all hate us. If we weren’t so greedy we wouldn’t be at war with Muslims. If we didn’t have too much time on our hands and $10 trillion to spend on gambling, off-premise booze and recreation every year, we wouldn’t be so quick to pick on immigrants.

    Wake up America and let immigrants help us. Pay them to do the work that Americans won’t do and stop hating them.

  • Pamela Oliver-Lyons

    All communities need to watch their expenditures. I hope we will see more influence from the new direction our President Obama has outlined for our nation which will make these abusive anti-immigration local community laws shown for the dinosaur that they are. It is time to build up all American communities and this requires the including not excluding. Community money needs to go in building up and education.

  • Herbert E. Larson

    Why is it that everything done by conservatives and the right wing-nuts supposedly to save money or keep us safe end up costing more? It goes back to R.R. and his compassionate conservatism where the privatization of govt. came into being. That has given us waste even the military couldn’t match through Blackwater’s protection at 2<3 times costs then before and Haliburton's food and linen washing service where the use of double and triple counting was the rule. when this is made evident on a mass scale maybe some sense of who is telling the truth and who is not will return.

  • Snorlax

    Any real conservative – a fiscal conservative – would be against these laws because they cost too much money.

    We need a rational approach to this.

  • peter l. wormser

    As timely as the SPLC report is, it should be circulated to the Indiana Genl Assembly, in specifics to a far-right wing State Senator from Hamilton County (one of the richest in the state, if not the region), who has pushed anti-immigrant legislation, who has been mentioned as a teabagger candidate in the Republican primary against Sen. Richard Lugar.

    It is sad when politicians latch onto an issue, because it provides unending publicity, gets his/her picture in the paper or mug on TV – whether the consequences of having latched onto that issue is good or bad for the locale on which that issue is being pushed. Ask Delph – a scary man.