A prominent spokesperson for the anti-immigrant Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) has predictably derided efforts to naturalize legal permanent residents. Founded in 1979, FAIR is a leading group within the organized anti-immigrant movement.
FAIR Media Director Ira Mehlman, who has been with the nativist outfit since since 1986, made the comments in an article published Friday evening by the Orange County Register.
Citing the fact that, once they become U.S. citizens, legal permanent residents have a right to vote in U.S. elections, Mehlman was critical of efforts by community groups encouraging immigrants to apply for U.S. citizenship.
“When you have these groups trying to go out there and help people become citizens because it’s going to serve their political agenda, that should be a concern,” he said.
Fear of U.S. citizens — native-born and immigrants alike — exercising their right to vote in elections has fueled a continued movement to suppress voter turnout and ballot access by the nativist right. Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, also a lawyer for FAIR’s legal arm, the Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI), has become one of the country’s leading proponents of anti-immigrant voter suppression efforts.
To achieve this, Kobach has filed a lawsuit seeking to force the federal Election Assistance Commission to violate current federal law and force federal voter registration forms to comply with harsh proof-of-citizenship requirements he shepherded through the Kansas legislature. The case, Kobach v. U.S. Election Assistance Commission, is currently pending approval to be heard before the U.S. Supreme Court. IRLI filed an amicus brief supporting Kobach’s efforts in April.