The Nativists

Around the country, an anti-immigration movement is spreading like wildfire. An array of activists is fanning the flames

ROBERT VASQUEZ
AGE: 56
CALDWELL, IDAHO

Not many people are aware that Idaho is under assault by waves of illegal Mexican immigrants. But Canyon County Commissioner Robert Vasquez is.

Vasquez has demanded that the governor of Idaho declare a state of emergency to stem the Mexican "invasion." He wants to "close the borders of Idaho and mobilize the National Guard to secure checkpoints" to rout out illegals. He has "billed" the Mexican government for $2 million to reimburse what he claims his county has spent on services to the undocumented. He has even attacked his fellow Republicans, accusing them of serving illegals better than American citizens.

You might think that would pretty much rule out Vasquez's future on a larger political stage. But he doesn't. In fact, he says he's running for Congress even as he considers a campaign for governor of Idaho. His message? Illegals bring disease and crime, lower wages all round, and threaten American national security.

"The diversity crowd seduces the naive by teaching that the invaders are noble, harmless people, just here to work," Vasquez told an anti-immigration gathering near Chicago in October, "when in fact they are here to commit auto theft, burglary, rape, robbery and murder."

The grandson of Mexican immigrants and a Vietnam War veteran, Vasquez hotly rejects the idea of being "a hyphenated American." Translated, that means he refuses to do interviews in Spanish, even with the Spanish-language media.

Vasquez is a former newspaper columnist who long specialized in arguing that English should be the country's official language. Another favorite target was "liberals," people Vasquez sees as pathetic weaklings. "As you sit in your Subaru Outback with the 'Save Tibet' bumper sticker," he wrote in one sneering column directed at liberals, "sipping your decaf-soy milk-latte, dining on your veggie burger, and whining about the poor al-Qaida being bombed, think about this: Freedom is not free. But don't worry. Your friends and neighbors are paying the price."