South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley is the daughter of Indian immigrants and just the third person of color to be elected governor of a Southern state.
So, one might think she would want nothing to do with racists and anti-immigrant extremists. Not so, apparently.
In anticipation of her 2014 re-election campaign, the Tea Party darling has put together a 164-member steering committee comprising folks from all 46 of her state’s counties. And on that list is one “Republican leader” and Tea Party activist named Roan Garcia-Quintana of Greenville.
Garcia-Quintana is a lifetime member and current board member of the Council of Conservative Citizens (CCC), which is listed as a white nationalist hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. The CCC is the linear descendant of the old White Citizens Councils, which were formed in the 1950s and 1960s to battle school desegregation in the South, and has evolved into a crudely racist organization. Its website, for example, has published pictures comparing pop singer Michael Jackson to an ape and referred to blacks as “a retrograde species of humanity.”
Garcia-Quintana is also a rabid nativist, even though he’s a naturalized citizen who was born in Havana. He’s executive director of the anti-immigrant group Americans Have Had Enough, based in Mauldin, S.C., where he lives. At the 2008 CCC conference held in Sheffield, Ala., Garcia-Quintana referred to Latino immigration as an “illegal alien invasion.”
In September 2006, Garcia-Quintana’s nativist organization received proceeds from a barbecue fundraiser featuring former U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo of Colorado. Tancredo, who was one of the most virulently anti-immigrant members of Congress, was listed as honorary chairman of Americans Have Had Enough and is currently listed on the group’s website as the “Past Honorary Chairman.” Lourie Salley, a League of the South (LOS) member, was named as the contact person for the barbecue on the League’s website. The League of the South, a neo-Confederate group that advocates for a second Southern secession and a society dominated by “European Americans,” is listed as a neo-Confederate hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
On the day of the barbecue, Tancredo spoke to men clad in Confederate battle dress from a podium draped in a Confederate flag. The food was catered by Maurice Bessinger, a well-known LOS supporter who has catered many LOS events and has been widely criticized for selling books defending slavery. At the close of his speech, Tancredo joined the audience in a rousing rendition of “Dixie.”
Although Cuban by birth, Garcia-Quintana does not consider himself Latino. His ancestors, he says, were Spaniards and this makes him white. He refers to himself as “Havana born, Savannah raised” and as a “Confederate Cuban.”
If Garcia-Quintana had his way, immigrants would be arrested if they were caught driving without a license and would languish in jail until they could be deported. Their cars would be impounded if they were caught driving without insurance. Garcia-Quintana would also work to make English the official language of South Carolina. According to his “Quintana for SC Senate” website in 2008, “What we want to accomplish is to STOP the enticements for illegal aliens. To do that we must remove the license to operate a business from anyone who continually hires illegal aliens and make it unpleasant for illegals to live here in South Carolina.”