The white nationalist John Tanton founded IRLI to legally buttress his flagship organization, the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), by hiring lawyers to craft anti-immigrant laws and represent nativists in their xenophobic causes. According to Tanton, IRLI “was structured in such a way that it could operate under FAIR’s tax exemption but have its own board”—thereby advancing his nativist ideals through legislatures and courts.
IRLI’s argument against CASA is that, as a not-for-profit organization, CASA has overstepped its bounds; using trumped up charges and nationalistic puffery, IRLI wants us to believe it’s a patriotic non-profit policing another. According to the Washington Times, “IRLI argues that CASA lobbies for legislation that would benefit immigrants and against bills that would crack down on illegal immigration.” That’s kind of funny, considering that IRLI writes some of the harshest anti-immigrant legislation on the books. Forget about lobbying; should any tax-exempt interest group be allowed to actually formulate our laws?
Kris Kobach, darling of the hard right and counsel for IRLI, has been credited for writing SB 1070 in Arizona and HB 56 in Alabama—two of the most severe immigration laws that sanction racial profiling and aim to keep immigrant children out of public schools. He has additionally helped to formulate, pass, and defend anti-immigrant legislation in a number of smaller municipalities across the United States.