Profiles of 20 Nativist Leaders
Rusty Childress, 42
"Mexico is the problem, they are not the solution. They export their indigent to el norte in order to gain billions of remittance dollars each year," says George "Rusty" Childress, a wealthy Phoenix auto dealer. "The bottom line is illegal immigrants will leave when it is no longer comfortable for them to stay here."
Childress is doing his part to hurry them along.
As president of United for Sovereign America, Childress presides over weekly anti-immigration summits at his Kia dealership. Past speakers have included Glenn Spencer, founder of the hate group American Border Patrol; John Watson of White Knights of America; neo-Nazi J.T. Ready, who equates Mexican immigrants to "fleas fleeing a dead dog which they sucked dry"; and state legislator Russell Pearce, who infamously forwarded an E-mail from the neo-Nazi group National Alliance to his supporters in 2006.
That was the year that Childress founded the anti-immigrant biker gang American Freedom Riders, which harasses day laborers in the Phoenix area. But he was ousted from his own group later that year after members raised questions about the immigration status of Latinos spotted washing cars and performing janitorial duties on Childress' dealership lot. American Freedom Riders (AFR) members say that when they confronted Childress, he defended himself by arguing that the workers were not his responsibility since a subcontractor employed them. That didn't sit well with the nativist bikers, and they gave him the boot.
Childress went on to form a knockoff biker gang, Riders USA, with a nearly identical logo, though he continued to represent himself to the media as the spokesperson for AFR as late as June 2007, much to the irritation of his former allies. "The magic of the American Freedom Riders is that as bikers we have no pretense about being politically correct," Childress wrote in a letter to the editor published last December. "We are profoundly anti-illegal immigration, down to our biker bones, and not one rationalization will detract us from our zero-tolerance."