The Nativists

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

RUSS DOVE
AGE: 49
TUCSON, ARIZ.

Russ "Sovereign" Dove is a handyman, a "biblical constitutionalist" and a former member of the Third Continental Congress, a major militia umbrella group of the late 1990s. He is also a man who is desperately concerned that illegal immigrants are sneaking into this country and skewing the American electoral process.

So Dove made up some official-looking T-shirts, emblazoned with "U.S. Constitution Enforcement" and the image of a badge. Standing in front of polling places in the September 2004 Arizona primaries, he videotaped and photographed anyone who showed up to vote who he suspected might not be a citizen. Russ Dove was determined to single-handedly protect the polls from the ineligible.

Voting ineligibility is something Dove likely has some personal knowledge about. A convicted felon, Dove may not vote legally in 14 different states.

Dove apparently also has a short fuse. He told a Chicago Tribune reporter that he would have liked to join in the citizen border patrols run last April as part of the Minuteman Project in Arizona. But he said he was too "fed up" and worried that if a confrontation with immigrants developed, "I'm afraid I'd have to respond in kind."

Still, Dove has celebrated the Minutemen, filming interviews with many participants and authoring frequent reports on immigration issues on his Web site and "Truth in Action News" radio show. The site carries video footage of Dove and company taunting counter-protesters at a July anti-immigration rally in Phoenix.

Dove also appears in a film not of his own making, "Undocumented: The Other Side of the Minuteman Project." The documentary was shot by the American Civil Liberties Union, which has opposed the Minutemen. In it, Dove proclaims that according to "state law, federal law and biblical law, everybody coming across the border is a thief and a liar."

Thievery is something Dove apparently has had some experience in. His 1980 felony conviction, it turns out, is for attempted grand theft in California. Two 1979 burglary charges were dismissed.