American Border Patrol/American Patrol

Founded: 
1992
Location: 
Sierra Vista, AZ
Profiled Leadership: 
Glenn Spencer

American Border Patrol/American Patrol (the first-listed group was essentially an Arizona extension of American Patrol, which is also known as Voice of Citizens Together) is one of the most virulent anti-immigrant groups around. On the American Patrol website and in self-produced videos, the group rails against Mexican immigrants, accusing them of bringing to the U.S. crime, drugs and squalor and of practicing “immigration via the birth canal.” Mexicans, in the words of group founder Glenn Spencer, are a “cultural cancer” following a secret plan, the Plan de Aztlán, to complete “la reconquista” (the reconquest, or takeover) of the American Southwest, which was once controlled by Spain and/or Mexico.

In Its Own Words
“An invasion is spreading across America like wildfire, bringing gangs, drugs and an alien culture into the very heartland of America.”
— Voice of Citizens Together video, “Immigration: Threatening the Bonds of Our Union,” 1999

“A misguided immigration policy and a hostile force on our border are threatening the bonds of our union. If she is to survive, America needs leaders who will fight for her. Leaders who will control our border. Leaders who will repel invaders. Leaders who will put an end to the cultural cancer which is eating at the very heart of our nation. America and her western civilization must be rescued if she is to make her date with destiny in the twenty first century.”
—    Voice of Citizens Together video, “Immigration: Threatening the Bonds of Our Union,” 1999

“Americans, especially white Americans, should get out of California — now, before it is too late to salvage the equity they have in their homes and the value of their businesses.”
— Glenn Spencer, “White Fight or Flight,” American Patrol website, 2003

Background
Glenn Spencer, one of the harder line anti-immigrant ideologues now operating, founded Voice of Citizens Together (VCT, which is more commonly known, like one of his websites and his radio show, as American Patrol) in 1992. According to a 2005 article in LA Weekly, Spencer claims that the sight of “Mexicans” in the Rodney King riots “tearing down [his] old neighborhood” prompted him to start Valley Citizens Together as a way to bring attention to the growing threat of illegal immigration. The name was later changed to Voice of Citizens Together to broaden the group’s appeal. Later, the American Patrol (AP) name was added; today, that name is much more commonly used than Voice of Citizens Together.

Riding a wave of anti-immigrant sentiment, Spencer led VCT/AP into a loose federation of groups under the banner of “Save Our State” to lobby for the passage of California's Proposition 187, which would have denied educational and other benefits to illegal immigrants and their children. Although it passed in 1994, Prop 187 was stalled for years in the courts and effectively killed in 1998 by the incoming Gov. Gray Davis.
 
It was later that year that VCT/AP — along with Barbara Coe’s hard-line California Coalition for Immigration Reform (CCIR) and the better-known Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR)— began working with the white supremacist Council of Conservative Citizens  (CCC). Coe, Spencer and Rick Oltman, then FAIR’s western regional representative, all came to Cullman, Ala., to speak at a 1998 anti-immigrant rally hosted by the CCC, a group that regularly spews vitriol at black people (“a retrograde species of humanity”). Also attending was an unrobed Alabama Klansman. The event, held to protest a swelling population of Mexican workers in the region, ended with the arrest of one of the rally’s organizers, charged with violating a local ordinance regulating outdoor fires by burning a Mexican flag. It was seen as an early indicator of the mixing of white supremacists and other extremists with more “mainstream” nativist elements.

VCT/AP uses its website, American Patrol Report, and self-produced videos like “Treachery and Treason in America” and “Conquest of Aztlán” to vilify Mexicans, deride so-called fifth-column Latinos, and rant about the allegedly long-planned Mexican invasion of the American Southwest. On the site, Spencer attacked Mario Obledo, a leading Latino activist and recent recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, as “Pinche [a slang Spanish term often translated as “worthless” or “fucking”] Cockroach and 1998 Asshole of the Year.” A cartoon character was depicted urinating on Obledo’s picture. (Bizarrely, Spencer later denied to reporters that the site had ever carried such a caricature.) Spencer posts material on his site from such men as H. Millard, an infamous columnist for the racist Council of Conservative Citizens who once bemoaned the “slimy brown mass of glop” that immigration and interracial families were making of the U.S. population.

VCT/AP’s videos push racist, anti-Latino conspiracy theories. Its video, “Immigration: Threatening the Bonds of Our Union,” which was sent to every member of Congress, purports to prove that the Mexican government and Mexican-Americans are conspiring to take over the American Southwest and create the nation of Aztlán. “Some scoff at the idea of a Mexican plan of conquest,” says the video (which also features a scuffle between VCT and anti-racist activists). The video then proceeds with an assortment of sound bites from Latino activists and Mexican officials — including references to “la reconquista” — that “prove” that there is a Mexican plot to break the Southwestern states away. A “hostile force on our border,” the narrator warns in grim tones, is engaging in “demographic war” against the United States. “Mexico is moving to capture the American Southwest.”

Under the banner of America Patrol, Spencer also ran a weekly radio show that aired in several cities in the late 1990s. On it, he hosted a series of extremist guests, including Kevin MacDonald, a California professor who accuses Jews of pursuing an immigration policy specifically intended to dilute and weaken the white population of America.

Thanks to groups like VCT/AP, variations of the Aztlán conspiracy theory are now widespread on the American radical right and in the much larger nativist movement. Columnists like Sam Francis, the late editor of the Council of Conservative Citizens’ Citizen Informer, have spread the theory throughout the radical right. And MSNBC news commentator and close Francis friend Pat Buchanan, a white nationalist, has helped to more widely publicize variations of the theory, as have other “mainstream” commentators like CNN’s Lou Dobbs.

In 2002, Spencer abandoned California for Cochise County, Ariz., joining several other anti-immigrant activists including Minuteman co-founder Chris Simcox, who have relocated to the southern border. (In a 2003 essay, “White Fight or Flight,” Spencer suggested that white people “should get out of California — now, before it is too late to salvage the equity they have in their homes and the value of their businesses.”) Setting up operations in the Pueblo del Sol subdivision in Sierra Vista, Ariz., Spencer created American Border Patrol (ABP), a private organization that would serve as a “shadow Border Patrol.” (Although it has its own website, ABP is essentially an Arizona extension of his California group, VCT/AP.) Using high-tech sensors, infrared video-cameras mounted on model airplanes, and “citizens” roaming the often mountainous terrain on ATVs, Spencer’s operation was designed to embarrass the federal government into fully militarizing the border by capturing images of undocumented workers on film and uploading them to the American Border Patrol website for all to see.