This week, Immigrants' List unveiled the inductees into its second annual Local Hall of Shame. This is a list focused exclusively on the ten worst anti-immigrant local politicians in America. These are politicians who have benefited politically from spreading fear and misinformation about immigration, and have enacted harmful policies that are hurting local economies and hurting families.
Immigrants' List is a bipartisan political action committee dedicated to electing lawmakers who are pro-immigration and highlighting and working to defeat obstructionist politicians.
From Arizona to New Hampshire, these inductees are standing in the way of fixing our broken immigration system. They are burdening families and businesses with their reckless and discriminatory legislation, and costing states and municipalities millions of dollars.
Read more about the 2012 inductees below:
1. Joe Arpaio - Sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona. When the Justice Department calls your behavior the 'worst pattern of racial profiling by a law enforcement agency in American history,' you know things are seriously wrong.
Joe Arpaio is on the national news more than perhaps any local politician in America. But when he isn't earning "worst in the nation" headlines or acting as an anti-immigration talking head on Fox News, he's endangering the people of Maricopa County. Homicides in Maricopa have increased. Racial profiling has become business as usual. Constitutional rights have been routinely violated - leading the Justice Department to file a lawsuit against Arpaio in an effort to stop his pattern of "misconduct that violates the Constitution and federal law."
2. Robert Bentley - Governor of Alabama. If you're paying higher prices for food this fall and struggling to stretch your paycheck to cover housing and gasoline, you can thank Robert Bentley for costing you money.
Gov. Bentley signed Alabama's notorious HB 56 (the "worst in the nation" anti-immigration law). It starts with "papers, please" mandates, and adds to it. He wants K-12 public schools to investigate the documentation of every student. A provision tries to stop the undocumented from attending public colleges or universities, in violation of constitutional protections. It bans landlords from renting to the undocumented, and requires every business to investigate employee. Churches have pushed back against a portion of the law that prohibits the transporting or harboring of undocumented immigrants. Occupying the same governor's mansion once occupied by George Wallace, Bentley is a sad reminder that we still have yet to overcome.
3. Jan Brewer - Governor of Arizona. Brewer is the first three-time member of the Hall of Shame - and if you've been paying attention, you know why.
Governor Brewer enacted SB 1070, Arizona's infamously anti-immigrant "papers, please" law that allows police to jail immigrants who don't carry immigration documentation with them everywhere they go. In fact, Arizona's law makes it a criminal state misdemeanor to live within the state's geographic borders without federal government documentation. Like fellow Arizonan Joe Arpaio, the Justice Department continues to make an effort to hold Brewer accountable for her actions - in short, Brewer violated the law, earned fringe supporters, and wants taxpayers to pick up her bill.
4. Judy Burges - State Representative, Arizona. The Arizona 3: Joe, Jan, and Judy. You probably know the names of Arpaio and Brewer. Now, you should meet Judy Burges.
State Rep. Burges is part of the anti-immigrant Minuteman vigilante group, an original co-sponsor of SB 1070, and has helped lead more than a dozen anti-immigrant bills through the Arizona House in the last five years. When Minuteman head Chris Simcox ran for US Senate, Judy Burges endorsed him, even though he's an anti-immigrant conspiracy theorist who has claimed to have personally witnessed Chinese Red Army troops maneuvering on the US-Mexico border. The fact she would align herself with that extremism shows where she stands on immigration. Joe, Jan, and Judy: now you know them.
5. Becky Currie - State Representative, Mississippi. First it was Arizona. Then Alabama. States are increasingly ripe for anti-immigrant demagogues, so it says something when you are so extreme that your fringe proposal dies on the vine.
Mississippi State Rep. Becky Currie tried for a law that would be the most extreme in the country. How extreme? Currie's bill would take undocumented children out of schools. Currie's bill would potentially make it a felony for undocumented immigrants to do simple things like take a shower or use tap water. And Currie's bill wasn't just opposed by the usual coalition of civil rights groups: farmers and small businesses stood up against the proposal, arguing that it would decimate the state's economy. She tried to curry the favor of anti-immigration extremists, but Becky Currie didn't count on one thing stopping her: common sense.
6. Daron Hall - Sheriff of Davidson County, Tennessee. If you've had children, you'll never forget the day they were born: the look on their face, the sound of their cry, the weight of the infant in your arms. And if you're Juana Villegas, you'll remember the clink of your chains.
Juana is an undocumented immigrant who was 9 months pregnant when she was arrested for a traffic offense. Shortly after being detained, Juana went into labor. Sheriff Daron Hall forced her to be shackled during labor and denied a breast pump during postpartum recovery. On the witness stand in a lawsuit over her treatment, Villegas remembered that after delivery, she tried not to move much because the clink of the leg chains would disturb her sleeping newborn. For any parent, it's a heartless way to be treated. For any newborn, it's a tragic way to come into the world. But if you're an undocumented immigrant, Sheriff Daron Hall wouldn't have it any other way.
7. Kris Kobach - Secretary of State, Kansas. He's been called the legal brain of the anti-immigrant movement. He is Kansas's Secretary of State. He's a top advisor to presidential candidate Mitt Romney. And a law he drafted may soon be coming to your neighborhood.
Harvard-trained Kobach is the national leader of the anti-immigration movement's legal arm, and has drafted anti-immigrant laws in communities across the nation (including Arizona's "papers, please" law). He was harmful enough as a lawyer, but now he's Kansas's Secretary of State - using that perch to spread fear about immigrants. Now that Mitt Romney's the nominee, he's trying to distance himself from Kobach (which says something about just how far away from the mainstream Kobach's views are), but there's no denying that Kobach has been one of Romney's most active supporters, appeasing the fringe extremist vote, and raising the specter of a prominent immigration-related appointment in a President Romney's administration.
8. Matt Ramsey - State Representative, Georgia. He may represent Peachtree City, but Matt Ramsey's views on immigration are hardly as inviting as his city sounds like it should be.
Matt Ramsey looked at Arizona and liked what he saw. That's why he wrote Georgia's HB 87, the Arizona copycat bill, rammed it through the state legislature, and got Georgia's governor to sign it into law. Aside from authorizing local police to demand papers proving citizenship and proof of status, Ramsey's proposal would make it a crime to drive undocumented immigrants to hospitals or houses of worship, and forces all Georgia businesses to use E-Verify to investigate potential employees. It's been estimated that Ramsey's law has cost the state's economy391 million - devastating local economies and small business owners who are trying desperately to recover.
9. Larry Rappaport - State Representative, New Hampshire. Rappaport's political rap sheet reads like a laundry list of conspiracy theories.
State Representative Rappaport is one of the New Hampshire leaders of the national anti-immigration SLLI group. Rappaport insists that you aren't a natural-born citizen even if one of your parents was an immigrant (regardless of where you were born, or if your other parent was a citizen). Rappaport is a "birther" who doesn't believe President Obama is eligible for the presidency: "I don't know where he was born, and I really don't care." As one New Hampshire resident responded, "The shocking thing isn't that there are people out there who fervently believe such nonsense, but that these people are elected officials."
10. Blaine Young - County Commissioner in Frederick, Maryland. Maryland has made some progress on the pro-immigration front, including passing a DREAM Act. So where do Maryland's anti-immigration extremists turn? Frederick County Commissioner Blaine Young.
As a County Commissioner, Blaine Young has pursued a package of xenophobic proposals far beyond the traditional scope of a county government - banning landlords from renting to the undocumented, and pushing English-only legislation. For this, he's received criticism even from fellow Republicans on the county commission; Republican Commissioner David Gray stood up to Blaine Young: "I find it chilling with all these proposals," Gray said. "It conjures up images of when people sanctioned Jews in Germany. ... This is chilling. This is not what this country is made of."
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