El Comité Responds to the United States Supreme Court Ruling on Arizona’s Anti-Immigrant SB 1070 Legislation


For Immediate Release: Thursday June 28, 2012

Contact: El Comité Pro Reforma Migratoria Y Justicia Social, 206.324.6044/253.347.4229.  info@elcomitewa.org

El Comité Responds to the United States Supreme Court Ruling on Arizona’s Anti-Immigrant SB 1070 Legislation


SEATTLE – El Comité Pro Reforma Migratoria y Justicia Social views the United States Supreme Court ruling on Arizona’s SB 1070 as a failure on part of our judicial branch to protect the basic rights of immigrants and people of color from harassment and racial profiling. On the morning of Monday, June 25th 2012, the Supreme Court passed down its ruling on the aforementioned, contentious bill. In a 5-3 decision the court ruled that three of the key provisions were unconstitutional, save for the provision that allows for police in Arizona to stop and ask documentation from people presumed to be in the United States without proper documentation.

In April of 2010, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer signed SB 1070, sparking contentious debate as to whether states can enforce federal immigration law. The act of signing SB 1070 was perhaps one of the biggest threats to civil liberties in communities of color, setting a dangerous precedent that will reverberate nation-wide. Central to the debate is the provision that allows law enforcement to stop and detain people suspected of being undocumented. Although other provisions were struck down, the fact of the matter remains that in Arizona, police are still able to exercise discriminatory policing based on a person’s appearance.

In Maricopa County, Sheriff Joe Arpaio, was found to utilize excessive and discriminatory force against the Latino community, as reported by a United States Department of Justice investigation. As a whole, the social climate in the state that introduced SB 1070 is one that enables discrimination and hostility toward immigrants and people of color in general.

El Comité Pro Reforma Migratoria Y Justicia Social reiterates the earlier point that in spite of the striking down of three provisions of SB 1070, perhaps the most controversial of these provisions, was left intact by the Supreme Court decision. Of concern with the decision, is the fact that various copycat laws have been passed since the introduction of SB 1070 in Arizona. As we have done over the course of the last twelve years, we will continue to work to ensure that all are given the opportunity to have a dignified existence, regardless of race, class, gender, sexual orientation, nationality or documented status.


For more information, contact the following: El Comité Pro Reforma Migratoria Y Justicia Social, 206.324.6044/253.347.4229.  info@elcomitewa.org


Shaping State Laws With Little Scrutiny (Courtesy of NPR)

Shaping State Laws With Little Scrutiny



October 29, 2010

When you walk into the offices of the American Legislative Exchange Council, it’s hard to imagine it is the birthplace of a thousand pieces of legislation introduced in statehouses across the county.

Only 28 people work in ALEC’s dark, quiet headquarters in Washington, D.C.  And Michael Bowman, senior director of policy, explains that the little-known organization’s staff is not the ones writing the bills. The real authors are the group’s members — a mix of state legislators and some of the biggest corporations in the country.

“Most of the bills are written by outside sources and companies, attorneys, [and legislative] counsels,” Bowman says.

Here’s how it works: ALEC is a membership organization. State legislators pay $50 a year to belong. Private corporations can join, too. The tobacco company Reynolds American Inc., Exxon Mobil Corp. and drug-maker Pfizer Inc. are among the members. They pay tens of thousands of dollars a year. Tax records show that corporations collectively pay as much as $6 million a year.

With that money, the 28 people in the ALEC offices throw three annual conferences. The companies get to sit around a table and write “model bills” with the state legislators, who then take them home to their states.

Key Players

Each of these state legislators sat on the ALEC Public Safety and Elections Task Force, which drafted language of a bill that became Arizona’s SB 1070.

Sen. Russell Pearce, Arizona

Original author of SB 1070. Brought draft of bill to ALEC to create model legislation. If re-elected, Pearce plans to run for president of the Arizona Senate.

Rep. Paul Ray, Utah

Former Staff Director of ALEC and Public Sector Chair. If re-elected, Ray plans to co-sponsor a bill in Utah similar to Arizona’s SB 1070.

Rep. Joe Driver, Texas

If re-elected, Driver expects to support a bill — similar to SB 1070 — that Reps. Debbie Riddle and Leo Berman plan to introduce next session in Texas.

Sen. Margaret “Peg” Flory, Vermont

Was present at the ALEC task force meeting when model bill was drafted. Sen. Flory does not expect a similar law in her state.

Rep. Dan Greenberg, Arkansas

Lost the Republican primary for state Senate.

Rep. Jerry Madden, Texas

Has attempted to pass immigration-related bill, but would not support a bill identical to Arizona’s SB 1070.

Rep. Bill Ruppel, Indiana

ALEC’s Bail Bond Subcommittee Chairman. Lost the Republican primary to a political newcomer.

Rep. Scott Suder, Wisconsin

Suder is very supportive of having a Wisconsin law modeled after Arizona’s, as long as it is ruled constitutional.

Rep. Jordan Ulery, New Hampshire

Signed amicus brief in support of Arizona’s SB 1070, filed in September, 2010, in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

Rep. Gene Whisnant, Oregon

If re-elected, Rep. Whisnant would likely support legislation similar to SB 1070 if introduced in the future.

Lobbying Or Education?

One of those bills is now Arizona’s controversial new immigration law. It requires police to arrest anyone who cannot prove they entered the country legally when asked. Hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants could be locked up, and private prison companies stand to make millions.

The largest prison company in the country, the Corrections Corporation of America, was present when the model immigration legislation was drafted at an ALEC conference last year.

ALEC’s Bowman says that is not unusual; more than 200 of the organization’s model bills became actual laws over the past year. But he hedges when asked if that means the unofficial drafting process is an effective way to accelerate the legislative process.

“It’s not an effective way to get a bill passed,” he says. “It’s an effective way to find good legislation.”

The difference between passing bills and “finding” them is lobbying. Most states define lobbying as pushing legislators to create or pass legislation. And that comes with rules. Companies typically have to disclose to the public what they are lobbying for, who’s lobbying for them or how much they are spending on it.

If ALEC’s conferences were interpreted as lobbying, the group could lose its status as a non-profit. Corporations wouldn’t be able to reap tax benefits from giving donations to the organization or write off those donations as a business expense. And legislators would have a hard time justifying attending a conference of lobbyists.

Bowman says what his group does is educate lawmakers.

“ALEC allows a place for everyone at the table to come and debate and discuss,” he says. “You have legislators who will ask questions much more freely at our meetings because they are not under the eyes of the press, the eyes of the voters. They’re just trying to learn a policy and understand it.”

Much about ALEC is private. It does not disclose how it spends it money or who gives it to them. ALEC rarely grants interviews. Bowman won’t even say which legislators are members.

Is it lobbying when private corporations pay money to sit in a room with state lawmakers to draft legislation that they then introduce back home? Bowman, a former lobbyist, says, “No, because we’re not advocating any positions. We don’t tell members to take these bills. We just expose best practices. All we’re really doing is developing policies that are in model bill form.”

So, for example, last December Arizona state Sen. Russell Pearce sat in a hotel conference room with representatives from the Corrections Corporation of America and several dozen others. The group voted on model legislation that was introduced into the Arizona legislature two months later, almost word for word.

Read Part 1 Of This Report

Arizona state Sen. Russell Pearce 

Prison Economics Help Drive Ariz. Immigration Law

An analysis of documents and records show that private prisons helped draft and pass the measure.

Bowman says that type of meeting is an informational exchange, meant to help legislators understand policy.

But first ALEC has to get legislators to the conferences. The organization encourages state lawmakers to bring their families. Corporations sponsor golf tournaments on the side and throw parties at night, according to interviews and records obtained by NPR.

Bowman says that’s nothing special: “We have breakfasts and lunch. They’re at Marriotts and Hyatts. They’re normal chicken dinner. Maybe sometimes they get steaks. Yeah, we feed the people. We think that it’s OK to eat at a conference.”

Videos and photos from one recent ALEC conference show banquets, open bar parties and baseball games — all hosted by corporations. Tax records show the group spent $138,000 to keep legislators’ children entertained for the week.

But the legislators don’t have to declare these as corporate gifts.

Consider this: If a corporation hosts a party or baseball game and legislators attend, most states require the lawmakers to say where they went and who paid. In this case though, legislators can just say they went to ALEC’s conference. They don’t have to declare which corporations sponsored these events.

‘Scholarships’ For Conferences

Kirk Adams, Arizona’s House speaker, went to ALEC’s most recent gathering in San Diego.

“I have been to ALEC’s conferences and they have been pretty educational — the ones that I’ve been to,” he says, adding that the time he spends with corporate executives does not influence his opinions on the issues.

Arizona state Sen. Russell Pearce speaks during a vote on SB 1070, the immigration bill, in April.  

Ross D. Franklin/APArizona state Sen. Russell Pearce speaks in April during a vote on SB 1070, the immigration bill he sponsored. The final version resembled “model legislation” he helped draft during an ALEC conference in Washington, D.C., last year. 

“If we were to believe that a dinner with a lobbyist would purchase a member’s allegiance to an issue, then we have much larger problems than that,” Adams says. “It’s just simply not been my experience at all.”

When asked if he paid his own way to the ALEC conference, Adams acknowledges he accepted money from the group to help pay for the trip. ALEC calls this a “scholarship.”

Many ALEC members receive these scholarships. But it’s not clear who’s really paying.

Michael Bowman initially said state Sen. Pearce, who also accepted a scholarship, would know who paid for his trip. But the Arizona lawmaker said ALEC paid for it. Later, Bowman said Bob Burns, another Arizona state Senator, would know. Burns was in charge of pooling money for the scholarships. He did not respond to NPR’s repeated requests asking where the money came from.

In an office at the Arizona statehouse, a review of records show that not one Arizona legislator who went to the conference reported receiving any gifts of meals, parties, golf outings or banquets tickets from a private corporation.

Pearce and a dozen others wrote that they received a gift of $500 or more from ALEC.

A review of the two dozen states now considering Arizona’s immigration law shows many of those pushing similar legislation across the country are ALEC members.

Copycat Legislation

Since Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer signed SB 1070 into law in April, five state legislators have introduced eight bills similar to it. Like SB 1070, four of them were also named “Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act.” Lawmakers in many more states NPR interviewed have said they would introduce or support a similar bill.

State Bill No. Date Introduced Status
AZ SB 1070 1/13/2010 Signed into law
SC H 4919 4/29/2010 Died in House Judiciary Committee
PA HB 2479 5/5/2010 Active in House Appropriations Committee
MN HF 3830 5/6/2010 Died in House Public Safety Policy and Oversight Committee
SC S 1446 5/13/2010 Died in Senate Judiciary Committee
RI H 8142 5/18/2010 Died in House Judiciary Committee
MI HB 6256 6/10/2010 Active in House Judiciary Committee
MI SB 1388 6/15/2010 Active in Senate Judiciary Committee
MI HB 6366 8/11/2010 Active in House Judiciary Committee

In fact, five of those legislators were in the hotel conference room with the Corrections Corporation of America the day the model bill was written.

The prison company didn’t have to file a lobbying report or disclose any gifts to legislators. They don’t even have to tell anyone they were there. All they have to do is pay their ALEC dues and show up.

Produced by NPR’s Anne Hawke.

Prison Economics Help Drive Ariz. Immigration Law (Courtesy of NPR)

Prison Economics Help Drive Ariz. Immigration Law



Glenn Nichols, city manager of Benson, Ariz. 

Laura Sullivan/NPRGlenn Nichols, city manager of Benson, Ariz., says two men came to the city last year “talking about building a facility to hold women and children that were illegals.” 

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October 28, 2010

Last year, two men showed up in Benson, Ariz., a small desert town 60 miles from the Mexico border, offering a deal.

Glenn Nichols, the Benson city manager, remembers the pitch.

“The gentleman that’s the main thrust of this thing has a huge turquoise ring on his finger,” Nichols said. “He’s a great big huge guy and I equated him to a car salesman.”

What he was selling was a prison for women and children who were illegal immigrants.

“They talk [about] how positive this was going to be for the community,” Nichols said, “the amount of money that we would realize from each prisoner on a daily rate.”

But Nichols wasn’t buying. He asked them how would they possibly keep a prison full for years — decades even — with illegal immigrants?

“They talked like they didn’t have any doubt they could fill it,” Nichols said.

That’s because prison companies like this one had a plan — a new business model to lock up illegal immigrants. And the plan became Arizona’s immigration law.

Behind-The-Scenes Effort To Draft, Pass The Law

The law is being challenged in the courts. But if it’s upheld, it requires police to lock up anyone they stop who cannot show proof they entered the country legally.

Read Part 2 Of This Report

Arizona state Sen. Russell Pearce speaks during a vote on SB 1070, the immigration bill, in April.  

Shaping State Laws With Little Scrutiny

Among hundreds of bills drafted by an alliance of business, lawmakers: Arizona’s immigration law.

When it was passed in April, it ignited a fire storm. Protesters chanted about racial profiling. Businesses threatened to boycott the state.

Supporters were equally passionate, calling it a bold positive step to curb illegal immigration.

But while the debate raged, few people were aware of how the law came about.

NPR spent the past several months analyzing hundreds of pages of campaign finance reports, lobbying documents and corporate records. What they show is a quiet, behind-the-scenes effort to help draft and pass Arizona Senate Bill 1070 by an industry that stands to benefit from it: the private prison industry.

The law could send hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants to prison in a way never done before. And it could mean hundreds of millions of dollars in profits to private prison companies responsible for housing them.

Arizona state Sen. Russell Pearce 

EnlargeJoshua Lott/Getty ImagesArizona state Sen. Russell Pearce, pictured here at Tea Party rally on Oct. 22, was instrumental in drafting the state’s immigration law. He also sits on a American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) task force, a group that helped shape the law. 

Arizona state Sen. Russell Pearce says the bill was his idea. He says it’s not about prisons. It’s about what’s best for the country.

“Enough is enough,” Pearce said in his office, sitting under a banner reading “Let Freedom Reign.” “People need to focus on the cost of not enforcing our laws and securing our border. It is the Trojan horse destroying our country and a republic cannot survive as a lawless nation.”

But instead of taking his idea to the Arizona statehouse floor, Pearce first took it to a hotel conference room.

It was last December at the Grand Hyatt in Washington, D.C. Inside, there was a meeting of a secretive group called the American Legislative Exchange Council. Insiders call it ALEC.

It’s a membership organization of state legislators and powerful corporations and associations, such as the tobacco company Reynolds American Inc., ExxonMobil and the National Rifle Association. Another member is the billion-dollar Corrections Corporation of America — the largest private prison company in the country.

It was there that Pearce’s idea took shape.

“I did a presentation,” Pearce said. “I went through the facts. I went through the impacts and they said, ‘Yeah.'”

Drafting The Bill

The 50 or so people in the room included officials of the Corrections Corporation of America, according to two sources who were there.

Pearce and the Corrections Corporation of America have been coming to these meetings for years. Both have seats on one of several of ALEC’s boards.

And this bill was an important one for the company. According to Corrections Corporation of America reports reviewed by NPR, executives believe immigrant detention is their next big market. Last year, they wrote that they expect to bring in “a significant portion of our revenues” from Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the agency that detains illegal immigrants.

In the conference room, the group decided they would turn the immigration idea into a model bill. They discussed and debated language. Then, they voted on it.

Key Players That Helped Draft Arizona’s Immigration Law

Key Players That Helped Draft Arizona's Immigration Law

Source: NPR News Investigations

Credit: Stephanie D’Otreppe/NPR

“There were no ‘no’ votes,” Pearce said. “I never had one person speak up in objection to this model legislation.”

Four months later, that model legislation became, almost word for word, Arizona’s immigration law.

They even named it. They called it the “Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act.”

“ALEC is the conservative, free-market orientated, limited-government group,” said Michael Hough, who was staff director of the meeting.

Hough works for ALEC, but he’s also running for state delegate in Maryland, and if elected says he plans to support a similar bill to Arizona’s law.

Asked if the private companies usually get to write model bills for the legislators, Hough said, “Yeah, that’s the way it’s set up. It’s a public-private partnership. We believe both sides, businesses and lawmakers should be at the same table, together.”

Nothing about this is illegal. Pearce’s immigration plan became a prospective bill and Pearce took it home to Arizona.

Campaign Donations

Pearce said he is not concerned that it could appear private prison companies have an opportunity to lobby for legislation at the ALEC meetings.

“I don’t go there to meet with them,” he said. “I go there to meet with other legislators.”

Pearce may go there to meet with other legislators, but 200 private companies pay tens of thousands of dollars to meet with legislators like him.

As soon as Pearce’s bill hit the Arizona statehouse floor in January, there were signs of ALEC’s influence. Thirty-six co-sponsors jumped on, a number almost unheard of in the capitol.  According to records obtained by NPR, two-thirds of them either went to that December meeting or are ALEC members.

That same week, the Corrections Corporation of America hired a powerful new lobbyist to work the capitol.

The prison company declined requests for an interview. In a statement, a spokesman said the Corrections Corporation of America, “unequivocally has not at any time lobbied — nor have we had any outside consultants lobby – on immigration law.”

At the state Capitol, campaign donations started to appear.

Thirty of the 36 co-sponsors received donations over the next six months, from prison lobbyists or prison companies — Corrections Corporation of America, Management and Training Corporation and The Geo Group.

By April, the bill was on Gov. Jan Brewer’s desk.

Brewer has her own connections to private prison companies. State lobbying records show two of her top advisers — her spokesman Paul Senseman and her campaign manager Chuck Coughlin — are former lobbyists for private prison companies. Brewer signed the bill — with the name of the legislation Pearce, the Corrections Corporation of America and the others in the Hyatt conference room came up with — in four days.

Brewer and her spokesman did not respond to requests for comment.

In May, The Geo Group had a conference call with investors. When asked about the bill, company executives made light of it, asking, “Did they have some legislation on immigration?”

After company officials laughed, the company’s president, Wayne Calabrese, cut in.

“This is Wayne,” he said. “I can only believe the opportunities at the federal level are going to continue apace as a result of what’s happening. Those people coming across the border and getting caught are going to have to be detained and that for me, at least I think, there’s going to be enhanced opportunities for what we do.”

Opportunities that prison companies helped create.

Produced by NPR’s Anne Hawke.

Meet Kris Kobach: Lawyer For The Anti-Immigrant Movement (Courtesy of Political Correction)

Meet Kris Kobach: Lawyer For The Anti-Immigrant Movement

July 15, 2010 12:21 pm ET — Melinda Warner

As the debate over immigration reform continues, anti-immigrant forces have offered some downrightheinous solutions on how to deal with the issue and policymakers around the country are starting todance to the nativist beat.  It’s an old pattern, and it’s not limited to Arizona’s notorious show-me-your-papers law.

From Playboy

Many Americans have resisted the flow of immigrants since the country’s inception.  And the rhetoric is always the same: they’re taking our jobs, they commit crime, they’re reproducing faster than us, they’re taking over, they don’t assimilate.  Xenophobic Americans have, over the centuries, scapegoated nearly every racial or ethnic group who migrated here — Irish, Chinese, Italians, Japanese, African-Americans (few of whom came here voluntarily), not to mention American Indians (who were here first).

The arguments coming from the anti-Latino-immigrant brigade are no surprise.  Descendents of some of the very populations that were once vilified are now taking their turn to try and exclude another group.  Like Barry Wong (son of Chinese immigrants) and Tom Tancredo (grandchild of Italian immigrants), these people — who aren’t native to this country by any means — are now fighting against any sort of logical reforms to the current immigration system because they are afraid the Latinos will take our jobs, commit crimes, take over, and refuse to assimilate into American communities.

And their lawyer is Kris Kobach.

Kobach is a Harvard/Yale/Oxford-educated Republican candidate for Kansas Secretary of State who’s become a national figure by hiring himself out to state and local jurisdictions to fight for restrictions on illegal immigrants partly on behalf of his employer, the Federation for American Immigration Reform(FAIR).

He’s currently at the forefront of the battle in Arizona over the bill he co-authored, SB 1070.  But this isn’t his first foray into the immigration policies of cities and states in which he is not a resident.  Kobach has inserted himself into local debates about immigration and left millions of dollars in legal debt in his wake.

Kobach has run up over $6.6 million in legal fees that small communities are responsible for paying.

Hazleton, PA: $2,400,000

Farmers Branch, TX: $4,000,000

Valley Park, MO: $270,000

Maricopa County, AZ: $12,600 (plus expenses)

Kobach has never been shy about speaking out against illegal immigration, in Kansas and around the country.  He has worked to prevent universities from offering illegal immigrant students in-state tuition. He assigned students in his law classes a book with a clear anti-Mexican immigrant message.

As an advisor to Attorney General John Ashcroft, Kobach “reformed” the Board of Immigration Appeals to such an extent that the number of judges who heard cases was reduced by half, thoroughly overburdening the system.

This is a man who struts into America’s communities, convinces them to let him draft legislation, and then runs up astronomical fees to towns with only a few thousand residents.  His agenda isn’t to solve any problem with immigration — it’s to make a name and fortune for himself.

His record may be catching up with him, however.  Fremont, NE decided against hiring Kobach to represent them in the event their newly passed immigration law goes to court. Albertville, AL voted against hiring him at all because of his record in other parts of the country.

Kobach’s record is ugly and underreported. Read about it here:

Kobach Across The Country

Kobach Used Anti-Mexican Immigrant Book In His Course Curriculum

Kobach Is Fighting To Prevent Illegal Immigrant Students From Paying In-State Tuition

Kobach, Arizona & SB 1070

Kobach In Hazleton, PA

Kobach In Farmers Branch, TX

Kobach In Valley Park, MO

Kobach In Fremont, NE

Kobach In Albertville, AL

Arizona Senate Bill 1070: Context and Implications

Seattle May Day March 2010

Arizona Senate Bill 1070: Context and Implications

In wake of polemic debate surrounding immigration reform, the most stringent bill approved at the state level so far, is SB 1070 in the State of Arizona, signed into law by Gov. Jan Brewer. The legislation itself, championed by ultra-right State Senator Russell Pearce with the backing of many anti-immigrant groups was written by a lawyer for perennial anti-immigrant lobby Federation for American Immigration Reform’s (FAIR) legal arm. FAIR is an organization categorized by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC is a legal advocacy organization that tracks hate and extremist groups nationally) as a Nativist Hate Group.

Provisions within SB 1070 make it unlawful in Arizona to: work or solicit work without documentation; hire or be hired if person being employed enters a car that is blocking traffic; transport, move, conceal, harbor, shield, or encourage an undocumented person to come to Arizona; and have state agencies restrict enforcement of federal immigration law, among others. Additionally, the bill endows local and state law enforcement with the power to determine a person’s immigration status upon arrest, before the person is released. Likewise, police are able to stop or question a person about their documented status based on “reasonable suspicion,” making the simple act of walking or being out in public without proper documentation a detainable offense.

In larger, national parlance, the introduction of SB 1070 has grave implications as provisions are a total affront to civil liberties, human and civil rights, and sets a dangerous precedent in which racial profiling and ethnic targeting are legitimized as law enforcement tactic. According to the AzCapitalTimes.com, a news service that tracks Arizona politics, other states are introducing copycat bills, while others await legal challenges to SB 1070 before they introduce legislation. States taking such action include: Colorado, Georgia, Maryland, Mississippi, Texas, Utah, Missouri, Pennsylvania, Arkansas, Nebraska, Minnesota, Michigan, Nevada, New Jersey, Tennessee, Ohio, Rhode Island, Oklahoma and South Carolina.

On July 28th, some of the provisions were momentarily struck down by a federal court judge of which include: the ability to stop someone “suspected” of being undocumented without a warrant; the ban on day laborers’ ability to solicit and perform work; and the requirement for immigrants to carry federal immigration documents at all times. The rest of the provisions under the bill went into effect on July 29th. A partial victory and indeed a very important one. However, the struggle continues to ensure the entire bill is repealed and to quash any anti-immigrant state bills from replication in other states.

–Oscar Rosales Castañeda