The Hatewatch blog is managed by the staff of the Intelligence Project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, an Alabama-based civil rights organization.

Arizona Debate Unleashes New ‘Reconquista’ Accusations

By Sonia Scherr on May 5, 2010 - 2:17 pm, Posted in Anti-Immigrant, Nativist Extremist

As the debate intensifies over Arizona’s harsh new law aimed at undocumented immigrants, nativist groups are claiming that opponents of the measure support nothing less than the reconquest of the Southwest by Mexicans.

Though the myth of “la reconquista” — a purported secret Mexican conspiracy to take back part of the United States — has long pervaded the nativist movement, anti-immigrant groups recently have been using it to portray critics of the Arizona law as anti-American. The law, which detractors (including Southern Poverty Law Center lawyers) say would lead to racial profiling, gives police the authority to arrest people suspected of being undocumented if they have some other reason to make contact with them.

Some of the most overheated rhetoric came from Peter Brimelow, the British immigrant who runs the anti-immigrant hate site VDARE.com. In a VDARE.com post last week titled “Help VDARE.COM Resist [Raul] Grijalva’s Reconquista!,” Brimelow vilifies the U.S. representative from Arizona who vowed at a Phoenix rally to “overturn the power structure that created this unjust, racist law.” Brimelow asserts that “Grijalva is not an immigrant but a Mexican colonizer and what he’s against is not the ‘power structure’ — he’s against America.”

Pat Byrne, the executive director of the Patriots Coalition, another nativist group, also took aim at Grijalva. “Grijalva is supported by the same cast of characters who have crawled out of their political sewers to support his irredentist views,” Byrne wrote in an E-mail last weekend to followers. “Irredentist” means advocating the reclamation of territory formerly belonging to one’s country — presumably a reference to Grijalva’s supposed goal of returning part of the Southwest to Mexico. In an April 18 mass E-mail, Patriots Coalition President Al Garza (a former Minuteman leader) called another congressman, U.S. Rep. Luis Guitierrez (D-Ill.), “Mexico’s #1 reconquista agent.”

Not to be outdone, Glenn Spencer, who heads the American Border Patrol hate group, posted a picture of the United States on his website last Friday with a Mexican flag superimposed on the Southwest. “The Mayor of Los Angeles [Antonio Villaraigosa] is a lackey of the Mexican government,” Spencer wrote. “His [sic] has declared war on U.S. sovereignty.”

Jim Gilchrist, a founding father of the Minuteman movement and the leader of the Minuteman Project, also weighed in last week by attacking not just public figures but all undocumented immigrants. The headline on his website proclaimed, “Minuteman Project says: Illegal Aliens Trying to Strong Arm Arizona.” He continued: “The illegal aliens are proving our point. The Minutemen have for a long time held the line that illegal aliens haven’t come here to work but to colonize.”

Minuteman Project Executive Director Stephen Eichler also heads TeaParty.org — part of the libertarian-tinged grassroots protest movement — so perhaps his group’s overwrought defense of Arizona is no surprise. An E-mail to supporters asked: “Are we to guarantee domestic tranquility for the rest of the world while our own Citizens hide in their homes for fear of an invading army of trespassers?”

  • Catalina

    ya’ll must be out of your minds. My grandparents were immigrants. They came here LEGALLY, learned the ENGLISH LANGUAGE, and worked all their lives paying into the UNITED STATES economy,not sending it home to Mexico. And what is with this new term “undocumented immigrant”? Whatever. That is just double speak for ILLEGAL ALIEN. I have NO PROBLEM with immigrants that come into this country legally, Mexican or otherwise, but ILLEGAL immigrants are a serious problem for this country, weather you want to recognize it or not.

    GO ARIZONA!

  • Bob Ruods

    Let me draw you a box….

    Here’s the constitution… it specifies a census every 10 years for representation purposes… and ONLY every ten years… until the next census, those numbers are the numbers all of us go by for federal representation purposes…

    Out side this box is speculation…. It means jack-crap and is in admissible in any sort of analysis of the facts because it is, by definition, opinion. Otherwise, I could speculate that due to the increasing hositlity towards illegal immigrants, the whole hispanic population drops relative to the whole, just as the Jewish population did in Germany and Russia prior to the holocaust and progroms… And were I to make such a specualtion, it would be entirely within the realm of reason and possibility. Ergo, this is why we don’t speculate in drawing and apportioning representation on what “might be”…

  • beholder

    Bob Ruods let me take you by the hand here.

    I’d like you to draw a square. Put 1% at the lower left corner. Now then put 20% at the upper left corner. Now put 2000 at the lower left corner, and 2025 at the lower right corner. Got it so far? Now here it gets complicated. Put a dot somewhere close to 11.3% in 2000. Then put a dot at 16.8% in 2025. Now, you can use a ruler if you like, draw a line between those dots. Can you see that your line is pointing upward toward the upper right hand corner of your box? How well you have done. This is population growth. You can now see that the Latino population is growing and it is no longer what it was in 2000.

    So, because that line is pointing up, you can’t take 11.3% (a number from 2000) and apply it to 308 million (a number estimated for 2010), and expect to derive any meaningful conclusion from it.

    Would you like to try those numbers again?

  • Bob Ruods


    Likewise, as I explained, the Latino population is growing at a fast rate and is no longer at 11.3% of the US population, but somewhere closer to the 16.8% currently estimated for 2025. We will have a better idea once the Census has completed its work for 2010.

    So your calculation data are faulty and the results are objectively wrong.

    I used latest census data and your own figures from your previous post… and the year is 2010, not 2025.

    Information for crime statistics taken from a survey by the local citizen’s group using the police blotter printed.

  • beholder

    Bob Ruods,

    I’m calling you out on your “recent local research” about crime rates at 45% by unauthorized immigrants. Please share with us where you got this data.

    And for the record, in 2000 (a full decade ago) the percentage was 11.3% of the population. The population was not 308 million in 2000 as you claim — that is the estimate from Census for 2010.

    Likewise, as I explained, the Latino population is growing at a fast rate and is no longer at 11.3% of the US population, but somewhere closer to the 16.8% currently estimated for 2025. We will have a better idea once the Census has completed its work for 2010.

    So your calculation data are faulty and the results are objectively wrong.

    I am perfectly aware that the intent of the law is to harass unauthorized immigrants. My issue is with the method used to acheive that goal.

    It is not justifiable to trample the rights of citizens in an effort to deport unauthorized immigrants. Furthermore, our Constitution guarantees equal protection under the law to all persons in our jurisdiction (specifically prohibiting unequal treatment on the basis of national origin), even criminals and law breakers.

    That is what distinguishes the American justice system from tyranny. It appears you have small regard for the Constitution, and little understanding of it, if you would tear it up to facilitate this wild eyed crackdown.

  • Bob Ruods

    No.. you fail to understand small town america…. Even in a town of 5,000- the police knew who was an illegal and who wasn’t through arrest records, interviews, and even drivers licenses and admissions to police…. however, in the state I lived in at the time, police had no power authorized by the state to arrest, detain, or deport such illegals… even though they CALLED the federal authorities to come pick them up.

    The feds decline to do their duty! For DECADES! So, when the federal government decides it won’t enforce the laws of the land in defense of the people victimized by illegal immigrants, it can hardly be upset if the states decide to do it for them.

    You still miss the entire capability of the law… a LEO who stops a vehicle full of illegals for a traffic offense… finds the driver has no license and isn’t even here legally. The rest in the truck are found in similiar condition, being illegals that is. They all get deported. Well, now word gets round that it isn’t a place friendly to law-breakers and the problem solves itself… namely, the illegals will go where they’re welcome, like California… and when CA goes bankrupt, NO BAILOUT. you reap what you sow.

    You want your state to turn a blind eye to federal law and national security, that’s fine. Leave the rest of us to enforce the LAW.

    And for the record, your estimated 11 million (some put it closer to 12.5) undocumented is, according the the Pew Hispanic Center, 57% Mexican, 24% other Latin countries, with the remainder 19% being from the rest of the world… thats about 6.3 million mexicans alone and 8.9 million hispanics. Compared to the 11.3% of the 308 million you give (34.8 million hispanics), that means in reality, 1 in every 4 is here illegally… And while that is a nationwide average, the large concentration in the south means this number is probably closer to 1 in 3 or so… recent local research puts the crime rates at alittle under 45% perpetrated by illegal immigrants…

    No doubt you’ve seen the news about a man deported 9 times, now accused of rape….

  • beholder

    Bob Ruods,

    The problem is not solved by your logic.

    We’ll get Census results soon but official estimates are of 308 million people living in America. Our best estimates, from official sources, and confirmed by a large number of independent sources, are of 11 million undocumented immigrants.

    Thus, whipping out the calculator, you can see that we’re talking about roughly 3.5% of the population.

    In 2000, about 11.3% of the US population were hispanic, and that number is growing. By 2025 the Census estimates 16.8%, so for screams, let’s say 14% of the US population today is hispanic.

    So you are saying it is ok to treat 14% of the population with suspicion and require police to ask of these citizens what they are not required to provide under normal circumstances (proof of identity), in order to go after the 3.5% of our population without a visa whom you (wrongly) assume are all hispanic.

    In other words, under your proposal 75% of the people detained and harassed will be statistically citizens, treated as non-citizens and asked to show documents they are under no legal obligation to provide.

    So, let’s take your proposal to the next level. Why don’t we throw four times as many people in jail as commit crimes, even though they are innocent, just to be sure we’ve got all the criminals?

    Hey who cares if 75% are innocent. Some of them are criminals, right?

  • Bob Ruods

    You answered your own problem… Citizens do not have to carry and aliens do. So, when a officer asks a individual on the street is they are a citizen or alien, the citizen answers honestly, the legal alien shows his card and the illegal lies or becomes evasive.

    If he lies but does so that doesn’t reveal nervousness or attempt to lie (the same judgement call we empower TSA to make and I think we can agree most LEOs are far better trained than TSA agents), the officer carries on and the illegal goes on. No harm, no foul. If the illegal becomes shifty, bolts, or other so action, the officer asks to see ID. In that instance, an illegal either produces ID, exposing them as illegally in the US or runs or acknowledges their presence as being illegal…

    Your implication that there is racism because an officer would likely stop those of mexican descent more than others is ilrelevant. Arizona is not suffering from an influx of illegal aliens from Romania or Great Britian. So, a new shifty individual hanging around small town Arizona isn’t a common sight except those of the mexican illegal pursuasion. That’s just the truth. Just like 95% of all attempted terrorist bombings by foreigners in the US or against US assests abroad are, SHOCK, of Middle East appearance… So, if an officer saw a shifty individual who didn’t look like they belonged in their small town, guess what.. they probably DON’T. People don’t just drift into small towns… This isn’t your favorite smut novel of the tall dark handsome stranger. You have to make a special effort to to get to these places and most have no bus stops or such mass transit servicing…

    The very same “we can’t target people because of how they look” thought process that we have thus far netted ourselves a few close calls and some body bags for terrorists is the same process that is responsible for thousands of robberies, murders, and other violent crimes every year from illegals… all becuase people refuse call a duck a duck on sight for fear of insulting… And the worst of it is its people who live far away from the problem trying to tell those of us dealing with it how to solve it.

  • beholder

    Bob Ruods,

    The requirement to “carry ID” does not exist in our country except in certain specific instances, defined by state or federal law.

    One, which you mention, is while driving. Another is entering a military base or other secure federal facility, and after the Patriot Act, to board an airplane. So the issue of immigration is not on its face the same as driving a vehicle.

    While the privilege of driving and the privilege of circulating in the country as a foreign national do indeed both involve a requirement to present ID in certain circumstances, these guidelines do not extend to individuals not engaged in such activities. Certainly your right to cross the street without being molested by the police is as defensible as the right of the state to go about its business enforcing the law.

    So we need to look at what the Constitution says, and the Scotus decisions pertaining to particular cases.

    So, just as you are generally not required to present your drivers license if you are not driving, an ordinary citizen (and through the 14th Ammendment, all persons under US jurisdiction, i.e. on our soil, airspace and I would presume US Navy vessels on open seas and diplomatic facilities overseas) is under no requirement to present proof of residency on the mere suspicion of being in the country illegally. Immigrants have the requirement, but you can’t impose that requirement on citizens, so the problem is how to legally tell the difference.

    In other words the issue is not at all whether immigrants must carry and produce their green card, which is true, but the means by which law enforcement can carry out such inspection in the color of law. Simply eyeballing somebody on the street and deciding to check their visa status raises a whole host of Constitutionality issues and potentiates the abuse of power. Do we look at their clothing? Can’t do it — Scotus ruled clothing is a generally protected form of expression. Accent? Eye color? Hair color? Skin tone? Surely you can see where this is going. Either these are immutable characteristics or forms of expression, and both categories are generally protected.

    While there is a large gray area after Terry (research Terry stop if you don’t know the background), and some states indeed have laws requiring citizens to identify themselves to law enforcement officials, this is not tantamount to carrying documentary proof of ID (i.e. green card, drivers license, etc.). It is enough to simply state your name truthfully.

    It is generally true that police may detain and question a citizen briefly when there is “reasonable” suspicion that the individual was involved in or is a material witness to a crime, but the citizen (or person under US jurisdiction) is not generally required to answer any questions and must be released after a brief period of time, or must be arrested. Once arrested, the law enforcement officer has the burden of proof and must explain during arraignment the reasons for the arrest. If they are found unreasonable, the person arrested may pursue a complaint of abuse of power in the color of law under Art 42.

    There is also an requirement to ID when taken into police custody, but this cannot be forced under the 5th Ammendment. We have the right in this country to simply not answer. Of course that will delay release from jail, but it is a right. The burden of proof is on the accuser.

    Certainly I can understand some people’s frustration with the difficulties in legally identifying who is and who is not an authorized immigrant, but I for one am more concerned about the preservation of civil liberties in the day to day operations of law enforcement than I am about cracking down on immigrants who do not, for whatever reason, have their green card.

  • Bob Ruods

    And pray tell…. how do you enforce a law that requires aliens to carry proof of status without containing some authority for officers charged with enforcing the law to request said proof of status?

    It would be like issuing driver’s licenses and saying you must have one to drive…. and then protesting when police ask to see it when you are operating a vehicle….

  • beholder

    Bob Ruods said,
    on May 15th, 2010 at 4:58 pm

    FEDERAL LAW SAYS IF YOU ARE NOT A CITIZEN YOU MUST CARRY PROOF OF IMMIGRATION STATUS-
    —————

    Yes, that is true, but not the issue.

    The issue is the constitutionality of how the law is enforced.

  • Kriss

    what i’d like to know is why is a british-immigrant leading a website that is “dedicated to preserving our historical unity as Americans into the 21st Century.”

    maybe he should take his own advice.

  • comus45

    It never ceases to amaze me that every one against this law does not understand that this country is founded on law. If the liberals have it there way, state and local law enforcement would never be able to detain anyone who broke a law in another state or federal law. I have many friends and business aquaintents who have lost there businesses because they can not compete with the un-documented worker. They pay there workers comp and un-employment comp and the un-documented workers have nothing paid in on them. Every State should adopt the birth certificate or legalized paper policy before anyone can be hired and that will stop all of this mess.

  • Bob Ruods

    FEDERAL LAW SAYS IF YOU ARE NOT A CITIZEN YOU MUST CARRY PROOF OF IMMIGRATION STATUS-

    This has been law since 1940!!!!! And ruled constitutional!

    NON-CITIZENS HAVE NO RIGHT TO CONSTITUTIONAL PROTECTIONS, as ruled by the Supreme Court…. We have treaties with other countries where we extend each other’s citizens certain rights an such under our laws but these are only treaties… they can be revoked at any time.

  • beholder

    “I’ve said it before, this is not anti-immigration, it’s anti-illegal immigration.”

    ——

    That is simply not true, no matter how much you repeat it. The facts speak for themselves.

    The laws in Arizona were drafted by FAIR (as were those in California, Farmers Branch Texas and elsewhere that later failed), a group whose stated purpose is to restrict all forms of immigration.

    The critical weakness of that idea is of course that undocumented immigration occurs in direct proportion to restrictions on legal immigration. FAIR’s concept of sustainability is ludicrous, and I think most people who have studied immigration in an intellectually honest way will one way or the other have to agree.

    Please look at immigration statistics from ICE. In the latest report, you will see that the vast majority of legal immigrants are granted visas on the basis of immediate family (most commonly marriage). Work visas are way down the list after that. Finally, the number of lottery visas — that is, virtually the only chance most people in the world have of being allowed to immigrate — is paltry.

    If FAIR achieves its goal of reducing immigration to 200,000 – 300,000 immigrants per year, it will mean that people in this country will never get to see their husbands, wives or children again. It would be a prohibition not only on immigration but the rights of matrimony and a slap in the face to those who claim to be true supporters of “family values”.

    As it stands, the US did not even grant its full quota of 50,000 diversity visas last year. In other words, under the status quo the line doesn’t move. Can you affirm with any credibility that focing immigrants from China, Haiti, the Phillipines, or elsewhere to wait ten years or forever helps limit illegal immigration?

    Our Founding Fathers listed restrictions on immigration as one of the main complaints against the tyranny of colonial rule. Nothing has changed. We are still a nation of immigrants. This is one of the most basic and fundamental aspects of our society.

    But if you look at other countries, such as Canada, you will see that intolerance of illegal immigration is compensated by one of the most liberal legal immigration policies anywhere in the world. As a result, you will see that illegal immigration to Canada is virtually insignificant.

    This is not even to consider the obvious advantages to our nation and economy of legalizing most of the immigrants in the country with an irregular visa status. That simple and sustainable policy would drastically reduce the expenditures on deportation efforts as well as bring about more responsible behavior on the part of the unauthorized population.