Xenophobic Hatred Grows with Latino Population in Georgia
In Georgia, where nearly 1 million Hispanic immigrants have arrived since 1990, xenophobic hatred and violence are on the rise
By Bob Moser
Nobody has talked more about the perils of immigration in Georgia than D.A. King. An ex-Marine from Marietta, a white-flight suburb just outside of Atlanta, King regularly contributes dispatches from "Georgiafornia" to the anti-immigration Web hate site, VDARE.com.
In the late 1990s, he worked with the Georgia Coalition for Immigration Reduction. Allied with the nation's largest anti-immigration group, the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), the coalition has organized protests and filled its Web site with facts and figures about the impact of immigration on Georgia taxpayers.
Last fall, King decided that wasn't cutting it. He took early retirement from his insurance agency to launch a far more ambitious effort: American Resistance, a national "coalition of immigration crime fighters."
"Immigration reform is a dead issue to me," says King. "I don't want to talk about cutting the numbers of legal immigrants. I want to put a stop to the crime of illegal immigration."
Three days after he announced American Resistance on VDARE and www.michnews.com, King says he'd already gotten 630 E-mails from folks interested in paying the $39 membership fee.
Almost a year later, he'll only say that he has "fewer than 5,000" paying members nationally and "fewer than 1,000 in Georgia." But King vows that he "won't stop until I have 1 million members" — hopefully in time for the 2006 elections — and offices with full-time staff in all 50 states.
"The NRA is an excellent business model," he says, referring to the powerful National Rifle Association, and his goal is to exert the same kind of influence on American politics.
Other than that, King is a bit vague about the kind of "resistance" he aims to spread. He urges members to report illegal immigrants to Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (BICE) offices when they see them — something King did in September 2003, after spotting a photograph of three illegal immigrants on the front page of the Marietta newspaper. King took their names and addresses to the bice agents in Atlanta. Two months later, he was furious to discover two of them still free on the streets of Marietta, walking "symbols of the anarchy that is destroying the American nation." His conclusion: "Adios, law — hola, anarchy."
This September, when a rally supporting driver's licenses for immigrants took place at the state capitol, King encouraged BICE agents to arrest those carrying signs, explaining to a local paper, "If I hold up a sign that says I want to rob banks legally, I think it's safe to say I'm a bank robber."
In the absence of la migra, King organizes counter-protests. About 50 American Resisters showed up to protest the driver's license rally. They carried signs like "Gringos for America" and chanted such slogans as "You Cannot Have My Country!" and "Enforce the Law!" — despite often being drowned out by what King described as "a crowd of 800-1500 screaming illegal aliens and their enablers."
Those "enablers" — groups like MALDEF and the National Council of La Raza — are the real bigots in this debate, King insists. "The racist forces that would take our country have made their intentions clear," he declares on the American Resistance Web site.
"The days of illegal aliens threatening and intimidating American citizens who show the courage to protest their national dispossession must, and will, end."
'I Want You to Suffer'
D.A. King's white-victimhood theme was memorably expressed after he protested the Freedom Ride for Immigrant Workers when it rolled through the Atlanta suburb of Doraville in the fall of 2003.
Seeing upwards of 2,000 Hispanics marching through the formerly homogenous little town, King wrote on VDARE, "I got the sense that I had left the country of my birth and been transported to some Mexican village, completely taken over by an angry, barely restrained mob. ... My first act on a safe return home was to take a shower."
Asked what percentage of Georgia citizens agree with his sentiments, King doesn't hesitate. "Probably 95," he says.
Certainly, he has some powerful political allies. Three North Georgia congressmen, Republicans Charlie Norwood, Nathan Deal and Phil Gingrey, belong to the controversial Congressional Immigration Reform Caucus, led by anti-immigration rabble-rouser Tom Tancredo, a Colorado congressman.
In the Georgia General Assembly, State Rep. Chip Rogers of Cherokee County has sponsored three anti-immigration bills, one of which would cut off all state services to illegal immigrants. "I don't think these folks are coming to America so they can make use of our social services, our schools and hospitals," Rogers says.
"They're coming for work. But we can't fail to recognize what it's doing to our health-care system, our prisons and our schools. One study showed that the state of Georgia spent $260 million to educate illegal immigrants last year."
Rogers acknowledges that "some people are beginning to target people for hatred," but he lays the blame largely on the immigrants themselves. "I truly believe that if it weren't for the high levels of illegal immigration, we wouldn't have the targeting, the prejudice, even if there were still high numbers of Hispanic people in Georgia.
"With so many people illegal, people tend to assume they are all illegal, and it becomes, 'Yeah, I couldn't get into the emergency room because of all those illegals there.' It feeds the prejudice."
Rogers admires King's efforts with American Resistance, which he believes produces "great research." But he keeps a distance, he says, because, "some of his associates are on the radical side."
Even though they're usually on opposite ends of legislative issues, Rogers wouldn't get any argument from Democratic state Sen. Sam Zamarripa about that.
"If American Resistance was really genuine about immigration reduction, they'd be protesting the big employers in America," says Zamarripa, one of the state's most outspoken proponents of immigrants' rights.
"The big companies are the ones who want cheap labor, and real enforcement of immigration laws would have to start with workplace enforcement. But they won't call for that, because that's not what their issue is. Their issue is ethnic. Their issue is that they don't want America to have any more color. They represent the worst of this anti-immigration theme that outsiders destroy America."
Zamarripa has paid a price for talking back to anti-immigration activists, and for sponsoring bills like the drivers' license proposal in the state Senate. "I'm watched and I'm tracked," says Zamarripa, who indeed is the subject of a "Zamarripa Watch" on American Border Patrol, an anti-immigrant hate site that often runs King's dispatches from Georgia.
American Border Patrol has called Zamarripa a "Mexican agent" and "Reconquista" (meaning that he's a part of the Mexican government's supposed plot to "reconquer" parts of the U.S.). Every time he's featured on VDARE or American Border Patrol, Zamarripa says, he starts getting E-mail messages — "love letters," he calls them — from anti-immigration zealots.
On the heels of King's "Zamarripa Watch" story about the drivers-license issue this summer, the senator received an e-mail message that particularly disturbed him. "My hope is that when the next terrorist act takes place in the United States ... your children will be the recipients of that terror. Yes, your children. I want you to suffer."
"These messages are directly correlated to the attention I get from American Resistance," says Zamarripa. "I think these people are operating just barely north of vigilante. They might not be traditional 'hate' groups, like the Klan, but that's part of the appeal. They provide a safe, so-called respectable haven for hatred and bigotry."