You probably read the headlines Wednesday about the right-wing assault on birthright citizenship, but have you seen the footage of the press conference?
Members of the State Legislators for Legal Immigration announced their plans to launch a state-based anti-immigration campaign to rewrite citizenship laws in the country at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. yesterday. They were joined by immigrant rights protesters who injected their message into the event.
SLLI is backed by FAIR, the anti-immigration group that the Southern Poverty Law Center called an “anti-immigrant hate group.” FAIR helped design Arizona’s SB 1070 and has coordinated similar state and local anti-immigration initiatives around the country.
“The bill is ignorant and wrong,” a man shouted from his second row seat and he was escorted out of the room. “It’s [an] inhumane, racist bill and it will be stopped, it will be stopped I’ll tell you that.”
SLLI is leading the coordinated state assault on immigrant communities. States have pledged to introduce bills in their legislatures in the coming weeks that confer “state citizenship” only on U.S.-born children who have at least one permanent resident or citizen parent. On Thursday, California Rep. Steve King introduced his own bill to revoke birthright citizenship in the House. The bill has 95 initial sponsors. It’s the beginning of a new stage in the country’s fractious fight over immigration.
Later, another man stood up and interrupted the press conference: “Senators,” he said, “the inscription on the Statue of Liberty reflects openness and welcoming nature that has made our country great.” He went on to read the most famous line from the Statue of Liberty—“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,” and then asked: “Does this sound like what you all are working towards today? This is what has made our country great.”
Not according to the SLLI. Wonk Room reported that at Wednesday’s press conference South Carolina Sen. Daniel Verdin called undocumented immigrants a “poison” who’ve infected the country with a “malady” that can only be cured by denying the U.S.-born children of undocumented immigrants citizenship.