The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights is holding a field briefing in Birmingham, Ala., on the impact of state anti-immigrant laws, like Arizona’s infamous S.B. 1070 and Alabama’s H.B. 56. The commission describes itself “as an independent, bipartisan, fact-finding federal agency, [whose] mission is to inform the development of national civil rights policy and enhance enforcement of federal civil rights laws.” It came as quite a shock to see groups that are not only vehemently anti-immigrant but have been identified as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center on the witness list, including Dan Stein, president of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR).
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center:
FAIR leaders have ties to white supremacist groups and eugenicists and have made many racist statements. Its advertisements have been rejected because of racist content. FAIR’s founder, John Tanton, has expressed his wish that America remain a majority-white population: a goal to be achieved, presumably, by limiting the number of nonwhites who enter the country.
Another witness, Kris Kobach, who currently serves as the Kansas secretary of state, worked with FAIR’s legal arm, the Immigration Reform Law Institute, when he drafted Arizona’s notorious S.B. 1070. Also testifying are two witnesses whose organizations, the Center for Immigration Studies and NumbersUSA, were also founded by Tanton.
The AFL-CIO has strongly objected to the inclusion of these groups in the hearing. AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said in a letter to the commission,
the inclusion of these speakers will compromise the reputation of the commission as an independent and fair fact-finder and may discredit the conclusions of the briefing.
Last year, a delegation of African American labor leaders visited Alabama on a fact-finding mission to obtain firsthand information about the impact of the state's immigration legislation, H.B. 56. The delegation’s findings concluded that the human consequences of H.B. 56 were devastating, abused the fundamental civil and human rights of immigrants and produced a climate of hate and fear that affected communities across the state. This situation continues and tens of thousands are suffering.