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In 1773, American colonists dumped tea into Boston Harbor to protest taxation without representation under British rule. If they were around today, the colonists might be surprised by the array of perceived ills around which their modern-day counterparts have been rallying at symbolic “tea parties” across the country: the Wall Street bailout, the income tax, big government, President Barack Obama, and now, the possibility of citizenship for undocumented immigrants.
Nativist leader William Gheen has joined the tea party frenzy by organizing “Tea Parties Against Amnesty and Illegal Immigration,” scheduled for this Saturday, Nov. 14, in more than 50 towns and cities nationwide. Gheen, who heads Americans for Legal Immigration PAC, said in a news release that the event is just the prelude to more tea parties and other anti-amnesty campaigning in the spring. Also sponsoring tomorrow’s protests are the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps, a nativist extremist group, and RightMarch.com, according to the event website, AgainstAmnesty.com.
The local organizers of the anti-amnesty tea parties include some prominent nativists, according to AgainstAmnesty.com. In Chicago, Rosanna Pulido served as a regional field coordinator for the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), which the Southern Poverty Law Center lists as a hate group in part because of its ties to white supremacists. She also formed the Chicago and Illinois chapters of the Minuteman Project and represented the FAIR-financed front group You Don’t Speak for Me! In Hazleton, Pa., Dan Smeriglio heads the Voice of the People, which organized an anti-illegal immigration in Shenandoah, Pa., six weeks after Mexican immigrant Luis Ramirez was murdered there.
Often featuring nativist speakers and signs, tea parties have provided a forum for anti-immigrant sentiment since their inception early this year. This spring, Gheen E-mailed leaders of allied organizations asking them to join a coalition of anti-immigrant groups planning to attend tea parties. But tomorrow’s tea parties are different in that they’re solely targeting illegal immigration. In addition, while the tea party movement has attracted some blatantly racist groups, such as the Council of Conservative Citizens, Gheen states on AgainstAmnesty.com that the protests are open to those who “share our nonviolent and nonracist multiethnic and bipartisan support for secure borders and immigration enforcement.” He added: “Any groups, individuals or materials that are not appropriate will not be allowed in our permitted areas.”
Let’s hope that’s the case. Information about the rallies appears on the websites of former Klan boss David Duke and the racist National Policy Institute in Augusta, Ga. Posters on Stormfront, the leading white supremacist website, are also urging members to attend. “This is great news!” wrote “ronatvan” on Tuesday. “All Stormfronters should join these huge Tea Parties! Prepare yourselves with big banners to spread our message.”