The Mississippi lawmaker who today introduced anti-immigrant legislation modeled after Alabama’s disastrous HB 56 is a member of a network of legislators that has embraced a raft of beliefs and conspiracy theories that currently animate radical-right extremists.
Rep. Becky Currie is one of about 65 members of State Legislators for Legal Immigration, or SLLI, in 40 states. SLLI was founded in 2007 by Pennsylvania state Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, an anti-immigrant hardliner who has written on SLLI’s website that “the personal and economic safety” of all Americans is threatened by “the ongoing invasion of illegal aliens.” He has compared the situation to that facing the colonies during the American Revolution.
SLLI’s members have promoted conspiracy theories about supposed government concentration camps and a coming one-world government, as well as false claims that President Obama is a foreigner and a Muslim. Some have described undocumented immigrants in vicious terms – as “invaders” or as a “poison.”
SLLI highlights the fact that it has a “working partnership” with the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), which has been listed as a hate group by the SPLC since 2007 for its white nationalist agenda and ties to racist groups. FAIR lawyers draft much of the anti-immigrant legislation pushed by SLLI members. FAIR’s demonizing propaganda, aimed primarily at Latinos and often Catholics; its ties to other hate groups and its hiring of their members; and its push for laws promoting racial discord all have been instrumental in fostering the anti-immigrant backlash that has swept the nation.
FAIR lawyer Kris Kobach, who also serves as Kansas’ secretary of state, has authored many of the anti-immigrant proposals put forward by SLLI members. Kobach also wrote laws for several small communities, including Hazelton, Pa., and Farmer’s Branch, Texas, that fostered racial strife in those communities, harmed their economies and left them saddled with substantial legal bills.
Kobach is also the author of Alabama’s HB 56, which has created a humanitarian disaster. Children have been removed from school and denied access to food stamps, and countless immigrants have lost access to various government services such as water.
The law created by Kobach and FAIR law has devastated Alabama’s economy. A recent economic analysis estimates that the law will shrink the state’s economy by $2.3 billion to $10.8 billion – and the state stands to lose up to $265 million in income and sales tax revenue. Farmers have watched their crops rot in the fields as farmworkers – regardless of immigration status – have left the state rather than live under the law. Alabama’s business reputation also suffered after police detained foreign employees of Mercedes-Benz and Honda who were in the country legally. Mercedes and Honda are two major employers in Alabama.
Alabama has already made the mistake of passing HB 56, which many legislators now acknowledge needs major revisions. Does Mississippi really want to follow Alabama down this disastrous path?