Around the country, an anti-immigration movement is spreading like wildfire. An array of activists is fanning the flames
By Susy Buchanan and Tom Kim
VIRGINIA BEACH, VA.
Last April's Minuteman Project -- a paramilitary vigilante effort to seal off the Arizona border -- may not have accomplished much in terms of stopping illegal immigration. But it was a remarkable media success, sparking upbeat coverage and the creation of some 40 similar groups in ensuing months. It soon became apparent the project had metastasized from the one-man operation started by Chris Simcox as the Tombstone Militia into a movement that was sweeping the nation.
With that -- and with the $50 application fees that thousands of people began sending in to join his Minuteman Civil Defense Corps -- Simcox knew it was time to professionalize. Flush with cash, Simcox hired the exceedingly professional Connie Hair as the Minutemen's official media spokesman.
It was Hair who got Simcox onto Fox News Channel's "Hannity & Colmes" in August, banking on her long friendship with Sean Hannity. It paid off -- Hannity did several broadcasts direct from the Texas border, where he strolled along the Rio Grande side by side with Simcox and tossed stones into Mexico. She also managed to regularly serve up worrying sound bites like this one: "If you're from the Middle East, it only makes sense you might be in a Middle Eastern terror cell."
Connie Hair is no amateur. Although she started out as a B movie actress -- sharing the screen with stars like Pia Zadora in 1982's "Fake-Out" and Charles Bronson in 1987's "Death Wish 4: The Crackdown" -- she soon entered the world of ultraconservative politics. She was a spokesman for Free Republic, a Clinton-bashing Web site, in the 1990s. She worked as a paid consultant and spokesman for archconservative Republican Alan Keyes in his 2000 bid for president and his 2004 campaign for senator from Illinois. She has worked for Judicial Watch, a litigious organization heavily funded by the hard-right Scaife Foundation that is currently suing the town of Herndon, Va., for funding a hiring hall for day laborers. Currently, she also is a paid consultant for the Washington-based Coalition for a Fair Judiciary ("the only grass-roots organization that stands in the gap between the judicial nominees and the vicious onslaught of the left") and a part-time director of communications for U.S. Rep. Trent Franks, Republican of Arizona. The National Journal recently ranked the congressman as the fifth most conservative in the House of Representatives.