The Nativists

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

ERIN ANDERSON
AGE: 50
ARLINGTON, VA.

Erin Anderson says she's telling it like it is. Middle Eastern terrorists, she says, routinely attend special schools in Latin America where they learn to speak Spanish and act like Latino immigrants in preparation for sneaking into the United States. Illegal aliens have brought a leprosy epidemic to an area near Boston. Miami, Houston and Los Angeles are no longer safe because the undocumented donate blood that has been tainted with a deadly disease from south of the border. Mexican pedophiles, terrified by the brutality of their own country's law enforcement officials, are flooding into this country in huge numbers. In all of this, Anderson assures her frightened audiences, the Mexican government is implicated "up to their eyeballs."

A favorite prop -- she seems to bring it to many of her speaking engagements -- is a replica of a Muslim prayer rug. While it's not the real thing, she concedes, it's just like one found near her family's ranch in Arizona -- proof positive, apparently, that Muslim terrorists are using the Southern border to infiltrate America. Typically, this scenario is outlined along with images of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center, which she portrays as one more result of illegal immigration.

But there are some things even Erin Anderson won't speak of in her speeches, which have ranged from Arizona to Alabama in the last year. In Washington, D.C., earlier this year, Anderson recited the tale of a young girl and her grandmother who were peacefully fixing a fence near the border when a human smuggler, or coyote, approached them. The man, Anderson said, enumerated a whole series of vile acts he intended to perform on the girl -- acts so awful that Anderson demurely declined to detail them. No problem. The audience, its imagination appropriately fired, gasped in horror.