The California Coalition for Immigration Reform (CCIR) was founded in 1994 by Barbara Coe. Its original purpose was to serve as a co-sponsor for California's Proposition 187, which would have denied social and medical benefits to undocumented immigrants and their children. The initiative passed, but was stalled in the courts for years and effectively killed in 1998 by the then newly elected Democratic Gov. Gray Davis. In 1999, CCIR helped organize a failed effort to recall Davis, who Coe derided as "Gov. Gray 'Red' Davis."
CCIR also partnered with Voice of Citizens Together (VCT) chief Glenn Spencer to stage rallies (many of them held on the Fourth of July) that have served as flashpoints in the immigration debate. On Dec. 8, 2001, for instance, the two groups co-sponsored an "In Defense of America" rally at the Anaheim, Calif., City Hall, which turned into an open brawl as anti-immigrant hard-liners clashed with Latino rights protesters in the streets.
CCIR made headlines in May 1998 when it paid for a billboard ad on Interstate 10 at the California-Arizona border that read, "Welcome to California, the Illegal Immigration State," and warned visitors, "Don't let this happen to your state." Many Latino groups charged that the sign was racist. According to an article in Jinn Magazine, Coe denied that there was any racial motivation behind the billboard but added that she was happy that it incited the anger of "Hispanic pro-alien race activist[s]." A month later, the billboard owner removed the advertisement and refunded CCIR its money.
That same year, Coe traveled to Cullman, Ala., to participate in an anti-immigration rally hosted by the white supremacist Council of Conservative Citizens (in 2005, she would admit to being a member of the group). The event was one of the first of the era where supposedly "mainstream" anti-illegal immigration activists collaborated openly with white supremacist operatives. The rally was notable for its anti-Mexican and anti-Asian oratory and the burning of a Mexican flag. Among those attending the Jan. 17, 1998, event were Paul Fromm, a Holocaust denier and associate of neo-Nazis who directs the Canadian Association of Free Expression and founded Citizens for Foreign Aid Reform; William Burchfield, a now deceased Alabama Klan leader who attended without robes or a hood; an unidentified racist skinhead with "Born to Hate" tattooed on one arm; Don Crumm of the Alabama chapter of the U.S. Taxpayers Party, a far-right party with deep roots in the extreme anti-abortion movement; and Glenn Spencer, president of CCIR's longtime ally, Voice of Citizens Together.
More recently, CCIR and Coe have claimed to expose a secret Mexican conspiracy, called the Plan de Aztlán, to "reconquer" the American Southwest. Coe also argues that a shadowy "New World Order" is being imposed on America by "globalists." In an April 2002 9*1*1 newsletter, CCIR asked: "Will our sovereignty and the very lives of our children be the price for the 'cheap labor' greed-mongers $ and Third World immigrants' VOTE to keep traitors (who have betrayed their Oath) in office?" CCIR also produced a DVD, "The Takeover of America," which uses snippets of comments from Latino leaders and others, often taken out of context, as proof of the alleged plot against America.
Charges of racism have long plagued CCIR. According to the Center for New Community, Coe and CCIR's Stan Hess attended a December 1995 conference in Alabama sponsored by the Council of Conservative Citizen (CCC), a group which has described blacks as a "retrograde species of humanity." In November 2005, Coe told the Denver Post that she spoke to and belonged to the CCC.