The Nativists

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

PATRICK HAAB
AGE: 24
MESA, ARIZ.

Patrick Haab's rise to prominence in the anti-immigration movement was almost as meteoric as his subsequent fall from grace. Anointed a hero, he was dropped rapidly after embarrassing revelations emerged about his past.

Last April 10, Haab came across seven men he suspected were illegal immigrants at a highway rest stop in Arizona and held them at gunpoint until sheriff's deputies responded to his 911 cell phone call. Much to his surprise, he was arrested and charged with seven counts of aggravated assault -- a move that generated outrage and consternation among anti-immigration zealots. It didn't hurt his rising reputation in that crowd when Haab, an Army sergeant, told reporters he'd just come back from a tour in Iraq, and went on to complain that America was turning into "Americo."

Haab was immediately embraced by the anti-immigration movement. He appeared on radio talk shows repeatedly. A fan posted his $10,000 bond, and a defense fund was set up. When the local district attorney, Andrew Thomas, dropped all charges against him, Haab became a superhero. Anti-immigration pundit Michelle Malkin described Thomas' highly controversial decision as "another victory for law-abiding, pro-enforcement forces." Haab even went so far as to demand $1 million to compensate him for four nights in jail.

Then it all went south. Two weeks after his release, the Arizona Republic broke a remarkable story. Haab had never been in Iraq. He had been in Kuwait, however, where he told officials during an Arabic cultural awareness class that he had a desire to "kill all the camel jockeys," including a Muslim from his own unit. He had also threatened to kill himself, officials said. Haab was pulled from active duty and returned to Fort Bragg, N.C., for mental health evaluation. While there, he bought a $12,000 sniper rifle, causing military officials to alert other authorities. Even after five months of therapy, a military official said he didn't think Haab was "ready to return to duty or become a functioning part of society."

And with that revelation, Patrick Haab effectively disappeared.