Profiles of 20 Nativist Leaders
Tom Macklin, 48
Avon Park, Fla.
In July of 2006, Avon Park, Fla., Mayor Tom Macklin drafted the Illegal Immigration Relief Act, which stated: "Illegal immigration leads to higher crime rates … subjects our hospitals to fiscal hardship … and destroys our neighborhoods." If it had passed, the city ordinance would have punished any resident of Avon Park who employed or rented property to "illegal aliens" anywhere in the United States.
The act was not only unenforceable; it was unoriginal. Macklin admitted it was a "mirror image" of Hazleton, Pa., Mayor Lou Barletta's similar, more famous ordinance. But Avon Park is not Hazleton. While the boilerplate language in Macklin's ordinance described fiscal hardship on local hospitals and higher crime rates, Avon Park in fact has no hospitals and crime rates have been steadily declining in the "City of Charm" since 1996. The City Council voted it down.
That defeat didn't stop Macklin, who resigned as mayor in September 2006 for an unsuccessful run for lieutenant governor on a Reform Party anti-immigration ticket. Macklin also founded the American Party of Florida (APF), a clearinghouse for nativist politicians. Macklin aspires through APF to outfit Florida's cities and counties with nativist mayors, sheriffs, commissioners and even school board members.
The American Party of Florida rapidly absorbed over a dozen grassroots anti-immigration groups throughout the Sunshine State. The APF's Sept. 8, 2006, kickoff party was an ornery, flag-waving affair that a Daytona Beach News-Journal reporter described as "bikers, Lynyrd Skynrd, beer and barbecue." Macklin quickly partnered his group with the hate website VDARE.com (named after Virginia Dare, said to be the first white child born in the New World) and the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps (MCDC), a nativist extremist organization.
The MCDC connection allied Macklin with Bill Landes, who heads the north and central Florida MCDC chapters, as well as Al Garza, MCDC's national executive director, and Chris Simcox, MCDC's founder. All three have been regular guests on Macklin's weekly "Hot Apple Pie" Internet radio talk show. Macklin himself frequently speaks at anti-immigration events held by small Florida-based groups like People of the U.S.A., Americans Standing Tall and Citizens Against Illegal Aliens, as well as at events sponsored by major national groups like the Federation for American Immigration Reform.
When police released five undocumented workers after a traffic stop in February 2007, Macklin said he was "enraged and disgusted." They should have been detained and fingerprinted, he said, "as a matter of protecting the country against terrorism." A month later Macklin wrote in a press release: "MAYDAY – MAYDAY – MAYDAY. AMERICA IS UNDER ASSAULT!!! WHAT NEXT? KREMLIN and/or CHINESE MILITARY PARADES UP THE NAFTA HIGHWAY in solidarity with Illegals?"