Hate Groups, Politicians Reportedly Pushing California Nativist Measure

A coalition of hate groups, nativist extremists, the California American Legion, Christian Right organizations and prominent members of Congress, including the head of the House Immigration Reform Caucus, have endorsed a punishing anti-immigrant ballot initiative now gathering signatures for California’s June 2010 ballot, according to the website of Taxpayer Revolution.

The initiative aims to “bring an END to ‘birth tourism’” by requiring an “illegal alien birth mother to apply in person for a ‘Birth to Foreign Parent’ document, pay an additional fee, submit full identity [and] means of support [information] with photographs and fingerprints, all of which is transmitted to the United States Department of Homeland Security.” It would also create an entirely new “California Birth Certificate” for all other births. The group claims that ending the 14th Amendment’s guarantee of citizenship to anyone born in the United States, which it considers “a feudalistic, uncivilized practice rooted in Medieval England,” is “critical toward reducing the crime problem.” (This claim ignores numerous studies that show that immigrants are, in fact, significantly less criminal than native Americans.)

Called the California Taxpayer Protection Act, the initiative would end pre-natal and non-emergency care and child welfare checks “deposited into illegal aliens’ bank accounts for the anchor babies” (meaning children born in the United States and who are therefore American citizens). “It is time to stop the proliferation of the Third World in the United States,” Taxpayer Revolution concludes.

The initiative appears to be the handiwork of Ted J. Hilton, who claims on Taxpayer Revolution’s website to have held “the first daytime demonstrations along the border … beginning in 1990” and to have spent 17 years studying “14th Amendment's original intent.” Hilton says he has “worked closely” with the Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI) to prepare the initiative’s text. IRLI is the “public interest law affiliate” of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), a hard-line nativist group that has been listed as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center since 2007. FAIR is listed because of the racist and eugenicist views of its founder and principals, along with a number of other reasons.

On board with Taxpayer Revolution are the hate groups California Coalition for Immigration Reform (CCIR), whose leader Barbara Coe is also a member of the white supremacist Council of Conservative Citizens, and the American Immigration Control Foundation (AICF). Both groups have produced racist anti-immigrant materials. AICF head John Vinson, for instance, has said that whites “have every legitimate reason to fear and resist a substantial racial/ethnic shift.”

Two nativist extremist groups also have endorsed the initiative: the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps (MCDC), who were labeled “vigilantes” by President George Bush, and the San Diego Minutemen, whose members were apparently captured pulling down migrant workers’ tents and makeshift huts on a videotape that appears to have been shot in McGonigle Canyon in San Diego.

Several politicians are listed as supporters of the initiative, most importantly Rep. Brian Bilbray (R-Calif.), a former lobbyist for FAIR who now heads the House’s Immigration Reform Caucus. Also listed are Rep. Dana Rohrbacher (R-Calif.) and California State Sen. Tom Harmon (R-Huntington Beach).

National anti-immigration groups, too, are on board. According to Taxpayer Revolution, NumbersUSA “has made a commitment to direct their over 75,000 California members to the website to support the initiative campaign and download the petition.” Peter Nunez, who is leads the board of the Center for Immigration Studies, is also listed as an endorser. Even one Christian Right leader has signed on — Phyllis Nemeth, the state director of the state chapter of Concerned Women of America.

Also endorsing the initiative is the California branch of the American Legion, a leading veterans group that Taxpayer Revolution describes as “very concerned that even illegal alien criminals, drug dealers and terrorists can give birth to a citizen.” Increasingly hard-line about immigration, the national American Legion recently published an error-filled report that relied on several extremists for key claims. In August, a Colorado American Legion post hosted what it called a three day “national security convention” that discussed nothing but “illegal immigration.” On the bill was Glenn Spencer, who leads the vitriolic hate groups American Patrol and American Border Patrol and who is well known for spouting anti-Latino comments. In 1996, for instance, he wrote in a 1996 letter to The Los Angeles Times that “Mexican culture is based on deceit” and “Chicanos and Mexicanos lie as a means of survival.”

Taxpayer Revolution’s initiative would face severe legal challenges if it were to pass. Rhonda Brownstein, director of the SPLC’s legal department, told Hatewatch categorically: “It would violate the U.S. Constitution.”