Mastermind Behind Arizona Immigration Law Strikes Again

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Kris Kobach—the Kansas lawyer behind Arizona’s harsh immigration law—has helped put another punitive measure on the books. A small Nebraska town passed a local referendum on Monday to exclude illegal immigrants from jobs and rental homes. The measure, which Kobach helped author, would bar landlords from renting to illegal immigrants, require the city to screen renters for their immigration status, and would require businesses use a federal database to ensure that only legal immigrants are allowed to work. 

Interestingly enough, the city council of Fremont, a town of 25,000, had actually opposed passing the measure, which was passed by a popular vote of about 57 percent. It turns out the Hispanic population has jumped from virtually non-existent to about 2,000 in about two decades—though no one knows how many of these newcomers are actually illegal immigrants. And some reports have suggested that older residents have been the driving force behind the law, concerned that Nebraska communities like Fremont just “no longer look or feel the way they once did.” While many conservative legislators in many states have vowed to pass copycat laws in the wake of Arizona, local ordinances may end up getting on the books more quickly, given such deep-seated wariness about immigrants and minority populations in small-town America. 

The Nebraska branch of the ACLU has already vowed to file suit against the measure and block its enforcement, claiming it is discriminatory, promotes racial profiling, and violates federal law. And local opponents fear the legislation will be costly to defend, and they’re right to be concerned. Kobach has helped defend similar laws in Farmers Branch, Texas, and Hazleton, Pennsylvania, both of which are still tied up in the court system. Dallas Branch has already racked up $3.2 million in legal fees in defending its anti-immigration law. And it’s local taxpayers in these towns who will end up having to bear the burden.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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