The Nativists

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

JOE TURNER

AGE: 28

VENTURA, CALIF.

Joe Turner's been angry about immigration since childhood. Eleven years ago, he stood in his high school cafeteria giving an impassioned speech in favor of Proposition 187, a California ballot initiative denying illegal immigrants access to public school and hospitals that was later found to be unconstitutional. Turner only sounded more radical late this year, when he demanded the city of San Bernardino pass a law to close day laborer centers, seize the cars of those who hire illegal day laborers, fine businesses that hire them, prohibit renting to illegal immigrants, and require that all city business be transacted in English.

In December 2004, Turner started his own anti-immigration group, Save Our State, and the group has swelled to the point where its Web forum now has more than 1,000 members. He's emceed a series of protests by a few dozen members of his group, including two that cost the city of Baldwin more than $40,000, mostly for police. (He calls this his "transference of pain" strategy.) Turner's Baldwin protests were held to demand that the city remove this "seditious" language on a monument: "This land was Mexican once, Indian always, and is and will be again."

An unusual feature of Turner's rallies has been the regularity with which they attract neo-Nazis and racist Skinheads clad in black boots with red laces. Some of what appears in Turner's Web forum doesn't sound much different than propaganda from neo-Nazis. In October, for instance, one poster suggested that Hispanic fertility should be reined in with "crop dusters spraying birth control powder" and concluded, "STOP BREEDING LIKE RODENTS! YOU'RE RUINING MY COUNTRY!"

Turner, who was charged with battery in December after a confrontation with an antiracist protester, does delete posts advocating violence and has even banned a white supremacist or two. But in the same breath, he has publicly complained that he is "sick and tired of multiculturalism" and "white-bashing." And, Turner added, "Just because one believes in white separatism, that does not make them a racist."

Be that as it may, the 28-year-old stay-at-home dad apparently has decided he's found his calling in the anti-immigration movement. "Deep down," Joe Turner told the Ventura County Star last July, "I feel like I've been called to greatness."