Profiles of 20 Nativist Leaders
Greg Letiecq, 42
More than 50 immigration-restriction state bills and local ordinances were introduced in Virginia over the course of 2007, although the overwhelming majority of them were voted down. The few that passed were concentrated mostly in a small cluster of counties in northern Virginia that has become a nest to thousands of nativists marching to the tune of former Maryland Army National Guard infantryman Greg Letiecq.
Letiecq is head of the nativist extremist organization Help Save Manassas, which boasts more than 2,000 members. He also runs "Black Velvet Bruce Li," one of the most popular anti-immigration blogs in the region. On it, Letiecq refers to day-labor centers as "open-air toilets" and describes Latino pro-immigrant activists as "mobs of machete-wielding radicals wearing ski masks" who are part of a global "Zapatista" conspiracy that also includes "burning cars in the suburbs of Paris."
Letiecq formed Help Save Manassas in April 2007. Members protested at day-labor sites and successfully pressured the Prince William County Board of Supervisors to pass a local ordinance severely limiting the access of immigrants to public benefits. The ordinance, co-authored by Letiecq, became law in July 2007. Later that year, a federal judge dismissed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the groundbreaking law, clearing the way for similar ordinances in other communities.
Since then, Letiecq has branded the "Help Save" moniker by helping to establish six spin-off groups in Virginia ("Help Save" Fairfax, Hampton Roads, Herndon, Loudon, Stafford and Old Dominion) and one in Maryland. This network is part of the Coalition on Illegal Aliens, whose members include small-town mayors, county commissioners and city council members, many of whom are also members of one or more "Help Save" chapters.
Not everyone in Manassas thinks their city needs saving. The Manassas Park City Council last year lambasted Letiecq's "false representation of the city's position," calling his efforts "a vigilante agenda that the city believes is irresponsible and offensive."
But Letiecq shows no signs of letting up. "We are obliged to defend our embattled culture before we inexorably veer off onto [a] destructive path," he wrote in "Our Culture Under Assault," an essay in the December issue of Frontline, his group's newsletter. "Whether our battle is combating the 'press one for English' insanity, or preventing the pollution of our longstanding cultural traditions with pagan harvest rituals from Mexico in our Christmas celebrations, we must engage in the struggle."