Profiles of 20 Nativist Leaders
Another generation of anti-immigrant activists joins the increasingly virulent nativist movement
They're 25 to 81 years old. Their homes are scattered from California to Connecticut. Their occupations include auto dealer, Web designer, Baptist preacher, documentary filmmaker and full-time border vigilante. They agitate on behalf of policies ranging from mining the U.S.-Mexico border and placing government sniper teams in the desert to the forced sterilization of Mexican women and the immediate deportation of all Latino immigrants and Muslims, regardless of legal status or citizenship.
They are 20 of the most active and influential nativists among the looming second wave of anti-immigration activists, organizers and militants. Their rhetoric and tactics often make those of movement icons like Minuteman Project co-founders Jim Gilchrist and Chris Simcox seem tame by comparison. They are media savvy and exploit any medium they can to deliver their message of raging intolerance. Several have been repeat guests on CNN and Fox News. Others have their own radio shows or distribute propaganda videos online.
The net effect of their collective effort has contributed mightily toward darkening the skies of an already harsh political and social climate, with the tone of the national debate on immigration growing nastier by the day and with Latinos increasingly being subject to discrimination and violence. The most current FBI hate crime statistics suggest that hate crimes targeting Latinos in this country spiked 35% over the past four years, and a recently released Pew Hispanic Center study found that Latinos, whether American citizens for generations or undocumented, are feeling more and more vulnerable and discriminated against.
What follows are snapshots of these 20 new-wave nativists. Although this collection is not intended to be comprehensive, it provides insight into the attitudes, motivations and personalities of a still-growing fringe movement that regrettably wields more influence in our society now than ever.
This report was compiled by Heidi Beirich, Susy Buchanan, David Holthouse, Brentin Mock and Casey Sanchez.
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."
Jerome Corsi, 61
Insult-mongerer Jerome Corsi has made a career of peddling conspiracy theories in far-right publications and his own books, variously attacking 2004 presidential candidate John Kerry, undocumented immigrants, and alleged secret plans to merge Mexico, the United States and Canada into a so-called "North American Union."
But it was Corsi's Unfit for Command: Swift Boat Veterans Speak Out Against John Kerry, that brought him and co-author John O'Neill to national attention — in part because of many falsehoods in its claims about the legitimacy of Kerry's medals from the Vietnam War. Corsi followed that up with Minuteman: The Battle to Secure America's Borders, written with Minuteman vigilante leader Jim Gilchrist, and most recently, The Late Great U.S.A.: The Coming Merger with Mexico and Canada, which claims to reveal a secret plan, possibly including "an executive branch coup d'etat," to merge the three countries. The new country, the two writers claim, will see the dollar replaced by the so-called "Amero."
Corsi also is a bigot. During the 2004 presidential campaign, Media Matters for America compiled comments Corsi made on the far-right Free Republic website. There, Corsi described Islam as "a worthless, dangerous, Satanic religion," described Muslims as "boy bumpers" and "women haters," and suggested that "boy buggering in both Islam and Catholicism is okay with the Pope as long as it isn't reported by the liberal press." And he mocked Kerry's supposed Jewish ancestry. The comments set off an uproar, with Unfit for Command co-author O'Neill falsely claiming to MSNBC host Joe Scarborough that Corsi was merely "an editor" of the book, not the co-author, in an attempt to put distance between himself and Corsi.
Corsi's most incredible book has to be 2005's Black Gold Stranglehold: The Myth of Scarcity and the Politics of Oil. In it, Corsi argues that oil — which scientists unanimously agree is derived from ancient organic substances like vegetable material — is actually "abiotic," or not related to living things. Rather, Corsi and his co-author opine, oil is produced by an underground chemical process that is limitless. Therefore, they conclude, that oil is not a finite resource.
In 2006, Corsi suffered an attack from an unexpected quarter, with right-wing nativist commentator Debbie Schlussel accusing him of plagiarizing parts of her columns and using them under his byline. Schlussel called Corsi "a thief."
But Corsi soldiers on. In January 2007, he was recruited to serve as the senior political strategist for TheVanguard.org, a major conservative effort meant to serve as a right-wing MoveOn.org. At press time, the project had yet to take off.
Robert Crooks, 58
For most Minutemen, armed patrols of the U.S.-Mexico border are a weekend hobby. For Robert "Little Dog" Crooks, 58, it's a way of life. The ornery 58-year-old literally makes his home on the border, living out of a RV camper with an attached Port-A-Potty on a desert hilltop just west of Patriot Point 242, the stone obelisk in California that marks the southern terminus of the Pacific Crest Trail. "We're playing king of the mountain, and so far I'm king," Crooks boasts in one of many self-produced promotional videos.
Crooks, a retired commercial fishermen from Oregon, first set up camp in May 2006. His tiny outfit, the Mountain Minutemen, also known as the Patriot Point Posse, is one of several particularly hard-core rogue Minutemen factions operating in the rugged border region between Campo and Jacumba, Calif. At one time, Crooks was doubling as the head of Campo operations for the Minuteman Project. But his penchant for name-calling and gunplay have made him persona non grata among Minutemen leaders who court mainstream media coverage.
For example, in July 2007 Crooks distributed a chilling video that appeared to show a Mexican immigrant being hunted and killed by a Minuteman sniper using a night-vision scope. After the Intelligence Report publicized the video, Crooks told law enforcement investigators that he and another Minuteman had staged it because "[w]e're old men and we're bored." Minuteman Project leader Jim Gilchrist subsequently banned his group's members from having any contact with Crooks, and stated publicly that he would no longer provide Crooks with supplies.
Whereas the Minuteman Project and most similar major civilian border patrol groups have detailed "Standard Operating Procedures," the Mountain Minutemen's rules of engagement, as detailed on the group's website, are basic: "Don't shoot anybody you're not supposed to shoot."
Michelle Dallacroce, 41
The founder and president of Mothers Against Illegal Aliens doesn't mince words. "Our beautiful nation has been turned into a jungle by the mass invasion of illegal aliens," Michelle Dallacroce asserts in her organization's mission statement. "Is it too late to save the United States and your children? If you sit back and do nothing, then we have no hope. However, if you take the time to read, investigate and let your mind accept the information that seems almost impossible to believe, you will come to the same conclusion thousands of other Americans have come to: We are not only at war with Iraq, but we ARE at WAR with MEXICO."
Since launching Mothers Against Illegal Aliens in 2005, Dallacroce, an Air Force veteran turned stay-at-home mom turned raging anti-immigration activist, has toted her bullhorn to dozens of protests and rallies from Washington, D.C., to Los Angeles, railing against Mexican immigrants (who she calls "dogs"), bilingual education and citizenship for "IAIs," or "Illegal Alien Infants." In fact, Dallacroce promotes a bizarre theory of her own design: "The U.S. Fourteenth Amendment does not claim citizenship to illegal alien women's children [born in the United States] because the illegal alien women are under the jurisdiction of Mexico."
Dallacroce is also something of a media darling, having logged more than 50 interviews, including a May 18, 2006, appearance on Fox News' "Your World With Neil Cavuto," where she said there is no reason "that we have to have" immigrant women and children in the United States, since there are no jobs for "the women and the children [to] do … other than their children's job … to dumb down the American children and overpopulate the schools."
Wiley Drake, 64
Buena Park, Calif.
Official Minuteman Project Chaplain Wiley Drake, the pastor of the First Southern Baptist Church in Buena Park, Calif., is a man full of contradictions.
On the one hand, he freely admits that since the mid-1980s his church has assisted illegal immigrants in obtaining citizenship by offering them free legal advice and paperwork assistance. On the other, Drake encourages "all my Southern Baptist brothers and sisters" to join the Minuteman Project — a group whose members have been characterized by President Bush as "vigilantes" but which Drake says is doing God's work. His church has donated blankets and food to Minutemen border patrols. And, as the OC Weekly points out: "Drake routinely uses his right-wing radio program to agitate against illegal immigrants and support the efforts of [nativist hardliner and U.S. Rep.] Tom Tancredo [R-Colo., until December, a presidential aspirant] to erect a 2000-mile wall along the U.S.-Mexico border."
While Drake is a devout Christian, he's not exactly a turn-the-other-cheek kind of guy. Last August, when Americans United for Separation of Church and State filed a formal complaint with the IRS alleging that Wiley's endorsement of Mike Huckabee for president violated tax laws that prohibit churches and ministers from endorsing political candidates, Drake responded by calling on his followers to pray for the deaths of the nonprofit's staff. Drake's name also appeared as a signatory on a document on the Army of God website declaring support for James Kopp, who was convicted in 2003 of assassinating a doctor who performed abortions. Drake has since claimed that he did not authorize the posting of his name.
So far, Drake has struck a softer tone in his opposition to illegal immigration. When he led a "pro-America" rally in 2006, one week after the massive May 1 immigration-rights marches, he told reporters: "The people [illegal immigrants] are being misused and being paid ridiculously low wages. That's hurting us and them." But his efforts to frame the Minuteman agenda in human-rights terms were badly undercut when the "pro-America" crowd began chanting, "Mexicans go home!"
Shawna Forde, 39
Preppy, blonde and fashionably coiffed, Shawna Forde doesn't look much like a grunge rock promoter or a border vigilante. Yet during the Seattle grunge scene's early 1990s heyday, Forde promoted and toured with several post-punk bands. Today, she's traded in her thrift-store flannel for a pantsuit, and her concert posters for Minuteman flyers pronouncing, "The Great Gringo awakens from siesta."
As head of Minutemen American Defense, or MAD, she straps on a yellow armband and carries a two-way radio to patrol the U.S.-Canadian border "against unlawful and unauthorized entry of all individuals, contraband, and foreign military." Acting on what she claims are "insider personnel tips," the group also has assigned members to patrol the Everett, Wash., main branch public library in search of suspicious-looking Middle Eastern men. Fortuitously, the library's windows overlook the Port of Everett, which MAD deems a high-profile terrorism target.
In the summer of 2007, Forde shared the podium at the Everett Elks Lodge with Minuteman Project co-founder Jim Gilchrist. Around 100 people attended the Illegal Immigration Summit at which Forde described her nativist awakening. "I was in the mall one day and, hey-- –– nobody's speaking English. I realized we had a serious problem. I just got tired of pushing one for English. I decided to do something about it," she said.
Forde's belief that in two years undocumented immigrants will "outnumber real Americans" is mild compared to other statements on MAD's website, such as a claim that Al Qaeda terrorists are recruiting U.S.-based members of the violent Latino street gang MS-13. A photo of the Ford Foundation's New York building is captioned, "This is where La Raza gets money to help destroy the U.S."
Forde has made two failed forays into local politics. In 2006, she started a MAD spin-off group to gather signatures in an unsuccessful bid for a ballot initiative that would cut off any state aid to undocumented immigrants. Then, in the fall of 2007, she ran for Everett City Council on an anti-immigration platform. She received nearly 5,900 votes but lost.
Her candidacy was tarnished by a well-publicized August 2007 shoplifting conviction for stealing $3.18 worth of chocolate milk from a grocery store. Forde claimed she walked into an adjacent Starbucks to meet a friend and simply forgot about paying. She nonetheless pleaded guilty, claiming she could not attend the trial while filming along the Mexican border. "The only reason I settled is because I'm shooting a documentary for my country," Forde told reporters. "I don't care [about the charges]. I am way too busy nationally to worry about this."
"Buffalo" Rick Galeener, 57
Before he became one of the most radical and flamboyant characters of the Arizona anti-immigration vigilante movement (no mean feat), "Buffalo" Rick Galeener was a professional singing cowboy. He traveled the desert in a motorized stagecoach, clad in chaps, Stetson and bandana and accompanied by dancing girls in frilly satin dresses. For a time, he was a fixture in Old Town Scottsdale and fancied himself Arizona's only official "Wild West ambassador." In his spare time, he rode custom motorcycles.
But all that changed in May 2000, when Galeener was diagnosed with a cancerous tumor in one of his legs. The treatment left Galeener crippled, depressed and addicted to pain medication, he wrote in an angry, online 2003 essay about his battle with the Veterans Administration: "It gets no better! It has only gotten worse! In addition, my mental state has been taking a beating. I can no longer perform as a 'Wild West' entertainer, as a lover to my wife, or as a provider for a family. That really takes a toll on an old cowboy!"
Lately, Galeener has focused his rage on immigrants, becoming a fixture at Phoenix anti-immigration protests as well as a member of the board of directors of Riders United for a Sovereign America, or Riders USA. The immigrant-bashing motorcycle gang has sponsored or participated in more than a dozen events since November 2006, when its members debuted by terrorizing Latino day laborers in Cave Creek, Ariz., during "Operation Adios Illegals."
Galeener also runs an online store that sells T-shirts. One reads: "Illegal Immigrants. When they RAPE your daughter you'll care!" Galeener's website encourages "Frontline Warriors" to stockpile weapons and ammunition and join him on the border for weekend excursions. The website pledges that new recruits will be issued a computerized ID card, a set of combat fatigues, and a .45-caliber pistol equipped with a laser sight and a bayonet. "Once you finish our training course you will be completely prepared and equipped with everything except an illegal alien hunting tag or permit," Galeener promises.
A tiny disclaimer at the bottom of the page reveals the section is meant only to "entertain and amuse."
William Gheen, 39
The website of the influential political action committee Americans for Legal Immigration, commonly known as ALI-PAC, contains a list of "Gheen-isms," folksy nativist aphorisms from ALI-PAC founder William Gheen. Here's one example: "Call me old fashioned, but people should be able to shop at Wal-Mart without worrying about catching [t]uberculosis."
Gheen quit his job as a legislative assistant to North Carolina Sen. Hugh Webster (R-Alamance County) in April 2005 to form ALI-PAC in order to fight against the passage of House Bill 1138, which would have allowed certain non-citizens to qualify for in-state tuition rates at publicly funded North Carolina colleges and universities. Gheen disparagingly and falsely referred to the "Access to Higher Education and A Better Economic Future Act" as "in-state tuition for illegal aliens."
The bill was only sought to grant in-state tuition to immigrants who had graduated from high school after attending four consecutive years of public school in North Carolina and who supplied a sworn affidavit showing they were in the country legally and had applied for citizenship. By the time Gheen and his misinformation machine were finished, however, many North Carolina lawmakers and journalists, let alone average residents, were convinced the proposed law would instantly offer in-state tuition to any Mexican who hopped the border.
As a result, daily newspapers and TV stations began asking misleading poll questions. CBS affiliate WRAL Channel 5 News queried people about "a bill that would give children of illegal immigrants in-state tuition." The Wilmington Star asked readers, "Should children of illegal immigrants get in-state tuition rates at N.C. colleges?" without mentioning the necessary qualifications or that children born on U.S. soil are automatically citizens under the U.S. Constitution. The polls skewed heavily against the bill, and in the end it was soundly defeated.
Since his initial victory, Gheen has gone on national media outlets including CNN, FOX and National Public Radio to launch preemptive strikes against any bill or ordinance that he perceives as sympathetic to immigrants, and to support laws proposed to deny public benefits to immigrants, to empower local police to arrest Latinos on federal immigration charges, and to fine anyone who employs an undocumented immigrant. He even pressed for a Senate bill to fund a study of buying buses to deport immigrants in massive numbers. ALI-PAC is supported by the Federation for American Immigration Reform, recently designated as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center's Intelligence Project, and allied with various Minuteman factions.
"The rallying cry is: Illegals Go Home!' Gheen declares on the ALI-PAC website. "No corporate propaganda will change the fact that most Americans do not want to surrender or capitulate to the lawless masses rushing into our nation."
Dustin Gold, 26
New Haven, Conn.
When he was a teenager, Dustin Gold was part of the "goth" subculture. He wore makeup and black, knee-high boots almost every day to high school. Now a licensed private investigator who runs his own Web design firm, Gold is rapidly becoming the golden boy of the anti-immigration movement. He's traded in his Marilyn Manson groupie duds for sharp business suits, and now only wears makeup for his increasingly frequent television appearances on national and local news and programs, where he holds forth on national security and economic issues pertaining to illegal immigration, always with a crafty nativist spin.
"[Gold] dresses well, speaks well and carries himself well, which creates an aura of authority," the New Haven Advocate wrote last December. In contrast to "sensationalistic cranks easily written off by the media," the paper said, "Gold comes across as reasoned, likeable, and intelligent. …That's why Gold's scary. He's appealing to the respectable media outlets who need a credible source on immigration and also talking to and recruiting zealous xenophobes."
Gold is a new player in the nativist game. He first appeared last summer when he organized a protest campaign against the Elm City Resident Card program, which provides local government identification cards to immigrants in New Haven to be used for opening bank accounts and accessing some city services, such as checking out library books. Also last year, Gold launched the anti-immigration group Community Watchdog Project. Its members regularly hold protests and dominate the public testimony at local government hearings.
"Our organization has two clear goals: to abolish illegal immigration in the State of Connecticut beginning with New Haven, and to protect our right to be American," Gold states on the Community Watchdog Project website. "We will do anything in our power, legally, to achieve these goals."
Bill Irwin, 47
Bill Irwin has been a key player in the Minuteman border vigilante movement since its inception. Irwin participated in the original Minuteman Project operation in April 2005. He then became a founding member of Chris Simcox's splinter faction, the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps, after Minuteman Project co-founders Jim Gilchrist and Simcox clashed and went their separate ways.
Irwin rose to the post of national operations officer. In this role, Irwin coordinated logistics for all MCDC border watch operations from late 2005 through May 2007, when he, along with two other national officers, one regional leader and 14 of MCDC's 27 state unit leaders, were fired by Simcox because they demanded that Simcox meet with them to discuss their serious concerns about shady fundraising practices and lack of financial accountability.
During the summer of 2007, Irwin and the other purged MCDC leaders formed the Patriots Border Alliance, the newest, largest and best-organized Minuteman spin-off organization to conduct "citizen border patrol" operations in southern Arizona, California and Texas. The Patriots Border Alliance held a single-weekend border watch last August that drew about 50 volunteers. Then, in late September, the group drew more than 300 volunteers over the course of its inaugural month-long border watch, "Operation: Allied Minutemen," near Palominas, Ariz.
Recruiting materials for the Palominas operation proclaimed: "We present a forum in which all Minutemen are welcome to operate as one voice, within one movement, with one goal."
Last November, more than 100 members of the Patriots Border Alliance and United for a Sovereign America, a nativist extremist group led by Phoenix auto dealer Rusty Childress, held a counter-demonstration outside a Phoenix furniture store. The store had been targeted for protests by pro-immigrant activists after its owner hired off-duty Maricopa County sheriff's officers to hassle day laborers on and around the property.
After Simcox criticized the Patriots Border Alliance for aligning itself with Childress, the group issued a statement condemning Simcox for saying at a public forum last December that under certain conditions he would support taxpayer-funded benefits for the children of undocumented immigrants: "[Simcox] cheapens our efforts, all those dark, cold, lonely nights on the border [when] we stood post over a country already betrayed by the politicians we had elected." The Alliance also criticized Gilchrist.
"While we honor the part that these two figures [Gilchrist and Simcox] have played in this movement, we cannot accept or excuse these ill-advised and destructive stands," the PBA stated. "Patriots Border Alliance will not compromise, will not retreat, and will not sell out."
Kris Kobach, 41
Kansas City, Mo.
The man behind many of the deeply flawed anti-illegal immigrant laws passed recently is Kris Kobach, the "national expert on constitutional law" who works for the Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI). IRLI is the legal arm of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), recently listed as a nativist hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. At IRLI, Kobach has been a prime mover behind ordinances in Farmer's Branch, Texas, and Hazelton, Pa., among other places, that seek to punish those who aid and abet "illegal aliens."
The laws have not done well. The Hazelton ordinance, crafted by Kobach and fellow IRLI attorney Michael Hethmon, was struck down last year by a federal judge who also charged the city for all legal fees. "Everything he does has been a failure," Mira Mdivani, a Kansas immigration lawyer, told The Pitch in January 2007.
Before joining IRLI, Kobach served as U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft's top immigration adviser, moving on to take charge of Department of Justice efforts to tighten border security shortly after the 9/11 attacks. There, he developed a program — the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System — that called for close monitoring of men from Arab and Muslim nations, even legal U.S. residents. The program collapsed due to complaints of racial profiling and discrimination.
In 2004, Kobach ran for Congress. (At the same time, he worked on a FAIR lawsuit against a Kansas law granting in-state tuition rates to the children of undocumented immigrants. The suit was dismissed.) Kobach lost by 11 percentage points after his opponent accused him of ties to white supremacists.
Kobach also has taught constitutional and immigration law since 2003 at the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law, but has come under attack there for anti-immigrant bias. In January 2007, for instance, flyers appeared on campus accusing Kobach of inflating his credentials and crafting bad law. In the classroom, he uses as a text a controversial book by political science professor Samuel Huntington that argues that today's immigrants will "divide the United States into two peoples, two cultures, two languages."
Kobach, who in 2007 became chairman of the Kansas Republican Party, is far-right Christian fundamentalist. During his 2004 campaign, he accused his opponent of associating with groups supporting "homosexual pedophilia." He was referring to the Human Rights Campaign, a mainstream gay rights organization that has never come remotely close to endorsing pedophilia.
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."
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?"
Chelene Nightingale, 42
Los Angeles, Calif.
When Joe Turner, founder of the anti-immigrant hate group Save Our State (SOS), accepted a job as a paid field organizer for the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) in the spring of 2007, he passed the SOS leadership torch to Chelene Nightingale, an actress and film production worker based in Los Angeles.
Although Nightingale has since declared that Turner remains the true head of SOS, she's been the one speaking to the media and coordinating protests since Turner went on the FAIR payroll.
In her first year at the helm, Nightingale led SOS members in a belligerent march through a Mexican-American neighborhood, organized a boisterous campaign demanding the arrest of an immigrant mother facing deportation who sought refuge in a church, and put her nonprofit group's 501(c)3 tax status in jeopardy by openly campaigning for Turner when he ran for city clerk in San Bernardino, Calif.
Her first order of business, however, was to tamp down the online bickering among SOS members and to censor all posts by the racist skinheads and other neo-Nazis who'd been heavily participating in the SOS forums since at least mid-2005.
By comparison, Turner had taken a lackadaisical attitude toward skinheads posting to SOS forums and frequently showing up to participate in Save Our State's militant protests. "There seems to be very little we can do to keep them from piggybacking off our activism," he told the Intelligence Report in 2005. Nightingale, though, has gone to greater lengths to make skinheads feel unwelcome. Last September, when nine "dressed out" members of the Golden State Skins tried to join an SOS protest in Simi Valley, Calif., SOS leaders acting at Nightingale's behest ordered them to leave. Police forced the racist skins to conduct their own separate protest across the street. Nightingale told the Intelligence Report last December that SOS enforcer Don Silva later personally called the Golden State Skins to inform their members they were banned from all future SOS events.
It's unclear whether Nightingale is weeding out the skinheads because she sees that they damage Save Our State's image or because she's truly anti-racist. Either way, it's obvious that SOS otherwise remains as militant as ever. Members shoved and pepper-sprayed an immigrant advocate last September and virtually laid siege to the United Church of Christ in Simi Valley for three days after the church began harboring a Mexican woman slated for deportation so that she would not be separated from her infant son. Nightingale even told the media that SOS members were there to conduct a citizen's arrest of the woman. When police refused them entry to the church, Nightingale's SOS followers yelled slurs at the church's two deacons, calling them "dyke spike," "clergy dyke" and "dykie-do."
Donald E. Pauly, 64
Donald Pauly is a Holocaust denier and self-proclaimed "Zionist Rastafarian" who believes, among other things, that "all Jews should return to Israel" and "[a]ll Negroes should return to Africa." These days, though, Pauly is chiefly concerned with ridding the United States of Mexicans.
A self-employed electrical engineer, Pauly in 2002 formed the Emigration Party of Nevada, a single-issue political party that advocates the forced repatriation of all Latino immigrants residing in the United States, regardless of their legal status, and calls for the government to place snipers on the border with orders to "shoot to kill."
"Bring the closest Mexican consular officer out to collect the first carcass. The word will spread instantly all over Mexico," Pauly proposes. "Immigration would be halted within days." The Emigration Party platform also calls for the forced sterilization of all Mexican women living in Mexico after the birth of their first child. "The cost of spaying a cat is $100. Surely $400 would be enough for a Mexican," Pauly says.
"IQ is the other elephant in the living room besides immigration," Pauly told the Intelligence Report. "Mexicans and American Negroes both have the same IQ of about 85. The main difference is that Mexicans will work without being whipped."
Despite such inflammatory rhetoric, Pauly claims the Emigration Party isn't fueled by racial hatred, at least not when it come to Mexicans. "We positively love Mexicans in Mexico and are the best friend that Mexico has. We want to replace their corrupt government with one that takes care of their people," he said. "We would stop them from breeding like flies and provide them with jobs."
Pauly refused to discuss Emigration Party membership other than to say: "We have a female telephone company employee, a female taxicab radio dispatcher, a male college professor, a male construction foreman, and a male construction worker. All of these would likely face being fired by their illegal alien-loving employers if their involvement with our Party were made public."
In December 2006, Pauly helped organize a small Mexican flag-burning demonstration in front of the Mexican consulate in Phoenix. He told a crowd of anti-racist protesters that he wants all immigrants deported from the United States, regardless of their skin color. "We'd like anchor babies from Ireland to go home, too," he said. "We don't care. We want all immigrants gone."
"Wasn't this country founded on immigration?" one protester countered. "One hundred years ago," Pauly retorted. "America is full and we want to clean it up. I want room to go out and shoot my pistol, room to park."
Rosanna Pulido, 51
There are more "illegals" in Illinois than in California, Rosanna Pulido told The Conservative Voice in July 2006. Pulido said she'd learned this startling "fact" from Susan Tully, the national field director for the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), and that it had inspired her to participate in the original Minuteman Project operation in April 2005, and then to form and lead the Chicago and Illinois chapters of the Minuteman Project.
Never mind that the FAIR data is false (in fact, Illinois ranks five states behind California in terms of the number of "unauthorized immigrants," according to the authoritative Pew Hispanic Center). "In Chicago, Ill., where I live, the city is under siege by illegal aliens who speak Spanish, use public services and take jobs away from citizens," Pulido testified before a congressional subcommittee in May 2007.
By that point Pulido, who's of Mexican descent, was also representing American Hispanics Against Illegal Immigration and the FAIR-funded front group You Don't Speak for Me! "I believe there are a lot of Hispanics out there like me who are afraid to speak out," Pulido told the Chicago Sun-Times. "I'm uniting with other Latinos who know we must stand up for the rule of law and fight for every American citizen no matter what race or ethnicity they are."
Later in 2007, Pulido accepted a job as FAIR's regional field coordinator for the states of Arizona, Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, New Mexico and Ohio. (FAIR was listed as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center last December.)
When Latina magazine honored Elvira Arellano, a Mexican woman who sought refuge in a Chicago church so as not to be deported and separated from her son, Pulido excoriated the women's magazine for "turning a criminal into a hero."
Whatever organization she's speaking for, Pulido has a flair for the dramatic. Last October she told the Northwest Herald that she "liken[s] what's happening with illegal immigration to [Hurricane] Katrina. … We are drowning in illegal aliens."
The Intelligence Report contacted Pulido by phone and asked her to explain the difference between her various roles within the anti-immigration movement. She referred all questions to Bob Dane, FAIR's press secretary.
Apparently, the Illinois leader of You Don't Speak For Me! now lets FAIR speak for her.
Jason "J.T." Ready, 34
A member of the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps as well as the founder of the prominent, Arizona-based nativist extremist organization Americans First, Jason "J.T." Ready advocates deadly force to stop Mexicans from crossing the U.S. border illegally. "I firmly believe in having a minefield across the border," he says in a widely distributed video. "This is 100% effective."
The past president of the Mesa Community College Republican Club and current Maricopa County Republican precinct committeeman, Ready is deeply involved in mainstream conservative politics. He's also an outright neo-Nazi. Ready spoke at a rally put on by the neo-Nazi National Socialist Movement in Omaha, Neb., last September (where he was billed as an "Arizona Republican activist") and appeared at the neo-Nazi National Vanguard's "Winterfest" gathering in Phoenix last December. He regularly posts to white nationalist online forums, including NewSaxon, where last December he offered this charming observation on the root causes of illegal immigration: "The truth is that negroids screw monkeys and rape babies in afreaka [sic]. Then stupid white man who licks kosher jew rear lets negroids in. … Stop Negroid immigration and integration now!!! Nature will take care of the rest."
In 2006, Ready ran for Mesa City Council. He made headlines that March when he fired a pistol at a Latino man armed with a BB gun. Later, his campaign derailed when, shortly after Ready volunteered to act as master of ceremonies at the Mesa Veteran's Day parade, it came to light that Ready had been court-martialed and drummed out of the Marines.
Despite this embarrassment, Ready informed the Intelligence Report he plans to run for office again — even though he fears assassination. "They want to kill the patriot who is only a lowly dogcatcher long before he can expose the aliens who subvert freedom from within the halls of Congress or the White House," he said. "Though I want to live free and in peace, I am fully prepared to be murdered or falsely imprisoned for what I believe to be true."
And he may already have come up with a campaign slogan. Ready apparently sees himself as the new David Lane, riffing on the recently deceased white nationalist icon's notorious "14 words" with his own version, which Ready calls the 18 words: "The Purity of the Aryan Race is the most precious resource Nature has to offer All of Humankind."
Alberto Rodriguez, 81
According to Al Rodriguez, the armed takeover of entire cities doesn't "happen only in Lebanon. It's happening right here in the United States."
Such exercises in hyperbole and distortion are commonplace for Rodriguez, the founder of You Don't Speak For Me! (YDSFM), which purports to be a grassroots collective of Latino anti-immigration activists. According to the YDSFM website, Rodriguez, a retired Army colonel, formed the "loose coalition of individuals" to become the "true" spokespersons of Latino Americans on the issue of immigration.
In truth, YDSFM's representation is grossly inauthentic. Like the similarly fraudulent Choose Black America, a "grassroots" coalition of African-American nativists, YDSFM is wholly engineered and funded by the Federation for American Immigration Reform, a rich and powerful hate group with slick nationwide operations. The groups were formed to deflect accusations of white racism.
As YDSFM Executive Director Miguel Cruz told The Record newspaper in Hackensack, N.J.: "Yes, the coalition is FAIR's creation… . They tell us there's a press conference, and they finance the travel and other expenses."
While FAIR speaks for Rodriguez — Ira Mehlman, FAIR's non-Latino national media director, is listed on the YDSFM website as the media contact — Rodriguez claims to speak for all Americans. In an October 2006 press release, Rodriguez says, "Like all Americans, citizens of Hispanic heritage want the government to untie the hands of the Border Patrol so that they can do their jobs protecting the security of the nation."
Rodriguez claims that YDSFM has over 5,000 members in 22 states. Local chapter leaders include Cruz (Newark, N.J.); Illinois Minutemen leader Rosanna Pulido (Chicago; see also profile above); and Claudia Spencer (Vista, Calif.), whose husband Michael runs the radical vigilante group, Vista Citizens Brigade.
In April, Rodriguez was the guest of Kansas Minuteman and radio talk show host Ed Hayes, who asked the Latino retired colonel if he was ever concerned about being racially profiled by the police. Profiling is a "media myth," Rodriguez responded.
"You've got to admit now that they [immigrants] are all felons," Rodriguez continued. "We've got to accept them into our society? Not no, but hell no!"
Vito Vaccaro, 25
No one has ever accused Vito Vaccaro of being subtle. At a Ground Zero rally in New York City in April 2007, the goateed 25-year old took to the podium and announced that all Muslims living in America, regardless of their immigration status or citizenship, should be immediately forced to leave the country. Vaccaro also advocates denying Muslims First Amendment protections, removing Islam from the city of New York's list of recognized religions, and affixing a symbol to any government-issued identification card issued to any Muslim living in the United States, even citizens. No Muslims of any kind are allowed to join Vaccaro's group, The Loyalist Party Against Islamic Hate.
"Terrorism is not a misinterpretation of Islam. It is Islam," Vaccaro said at a press conference held in Bayside, N.Y., in December. According to the Loyalist website: "[Vaccaro] is the only politician who openly declares the obvious fact that Islam is, in and of itself, an intolerant and hateful philosophy."
Aside from its fringe views on Islam, much of the Loyalist Party's platform echoes mainstream anti-immigration movement positions: No amnesty or driver's licenses for illegal immigrants; funding for legal immigrants to learn English and American history; strong support for private gun ownership. But its overtly exclusionary anti-Muslim policies make it arguably the most extreme of all the nativist organizations in the country.
In an entry titled "Hope for America or America's BNP [British Nationalist Party]?" Rob Taylor at Red Alerts, a far-right website that monitors Islamic extremism, described his reaction to the Loyalist Party after meeting some of its members. "Like the BNP," Taylor wrote, "the Loyalists are hampered from getting their message out because their rhetoric not only borrows from White nationalism, but attracts a White Nationalist contingent."
Loyalist Party co-founder Brian Nordval said in a recent Internet radio interview that while his organization's ideology may be out of step with mainstream America for now, "I want you to think about the future, 15, 20 years from now. You turn on the TV and you see that mushroom cloud over D.C. or New York. … [J]ust then a light bulb will go off, 'Wait, I remember this fringe party, the Loyalists, warned us about this.'"
Brook Young, 39
Los Angeles, Calif.
Filmmaker Brook Young makes his home in Los Angeles, where he says he is "surrounded by suspected illegal aliens." Video camera ever in hand, Young is known in anti-immigration circles as "The Watchdog" for his ubiquitous presence at Southern California's steady stream of protests and street theater sponsored by nativist and pro-immigrant forces alike.
His website, ImmigrationWatch, features Young's edited footage as well as immigration-related newscasts and several videos like "Commies Get Beat Down," which depict pro-immigrant protesters either behaving badly or being victimized — sometimes both. Another video posted on his site, "The Legacy of Madeline Cosman," is a tribute to the deceased attorney who passed herself off as a medical and immigration expert, attaining fame in nativist circles for her claims that Mexican immigrants are spreading leprosy and raping children and nuns.
Although Young makes videos in conjunction with the leaders of Save Our State and the San Diego Minutemen, he claims not to be a member of either organization. "I am an active participant in the anti-illegal immigration movement but I like to think of myself as 'independent' and not a member of any specific anti-illegal immigration group," he states on his website.
Young has twice appeared as a guest commentator on the Fox News show, "Hannity & Colmes." "I think [the] overwhelming majority of Mexicans believe that this country, this land, was stolen from them," Young said during his second appearance in December 2006. "We have people … sneaking across our borders that are calling us racist and stealing our jobs."
Last year, Young was interviewed by KNBC-TV of Los Angeles. He claimed a child prostitution ring was being operated by Mexican immigrant workers who live in makeshift camps in a valley north of San Diego. The actual footage compiled by Young failed to show anything more incriminating than migrants walking in and out of a tree grove. San Diego police said their own stakeouts of the canyon failed to reveal any illegal activity.
Young's most famous on-camera moment took place in a scene he didn't get to film. In September, Young attended a Save Our State protest held outside a Simi Valley church that was providing sanctuary to an undocumented immigrant and her infant son. Young got into a scuffle with immigrant activist Naui Huitzilopochtli that ended with Young pepper-spraying the activist. Photos of Huitzilopochtli in obvious agony are now widespread on the websites of both immigrant advocates and nativist groups. Both sides use the images to support arguments for the violence of their opposition. Huitzilopochtli claims the police mistreated him, failing to offer him aid. Young, despite being the one who fired the pepper spray, claims he was the victim of a hate crime. But in an ironic postscript, Young says he hasn't pressed charges because he's been unable to find any video of the incident.