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Anti-Immigrant Activists, Extremists and Politicians at DC March

On July 15, the Black American Leadership Alliance (BALA), an African American “front group” created by the anti-immigrant movement, held a rally in opposition to immigration reform in Washington, D.C. The theme of the “DC March for Jobs” event centered on the argument that immigration reform and an increase in immigration will hurt American workers and minorities, particularly African Americans, who will be “competing” with the new immigrants for jobs. This anti-immigrant narrative is the core principle of BALA, whose members claim to stand up for African Americans. In reality, BALA is made up of long-time anti-immigrant activists, some of whom hold prominent positions in some of the largest anti-immigrant groups in the country.

Both national and local anti-immigrant groups heavily promoted the DC March for Jobs. A crowd of around 800 attended the rally, with anti-immigrant activists coming to DC from over a dozen states, from places as far away as Los Angeles. The rally itself featured a number of speakers with a history of bigoted statements, attracted a number of extremists, and many attendees displayed signs full of rhetoric demonizing immigrants.

Speakers at the Rally

Many of the speakers at the event, such as former Rep. Allen West and Iowa Rep. Steve King, have a history of bigoted remarks. Though both of their speeches were relatively tame at the July 15 event, Ken Crow, the co-founder of Tea Party Community, spoke about “breeding” and praised the crowd of “patriots” for coming from “the best stock on earth.”  Crow also stated, “And the unique thing about being from that part of the world [Texas], when you learn about breeding, you learn that you cannot breed Secretariat to a donkey and expect to win the Kentucky Derby. You guys have incredible DNA and don’t forget it.”

Some speakers not on the original agenda took the stage on July 15, including Roy Beck, founder of the anti-immigrant group NumbersUSA, and Ted Hayes, the former head of the anti-immigrant front group Choose Black America (CBA). BALA appears to have risen from the ashes of CBA, a group only active during the last major push for immigration reform in 2006/2007. The speakers stuck mostly to a few popular anti-immigrant arguments, claiming that American workers and minorities will be the hardest hit if immigration reform passes, the cost of immigration reform is extremely high and immigration reform will lead to increases in legal immigration.

Extremist Attendees at the Event

A number of extremist figures attended the DC March for Jobs event on July 15, including Tim Dionisopoulos, a former activist with the now defunct racist student group Youth for Western Civilization (YWC). In April 2011, Dionisopoulos invited the white supremacist Richard Spencer to Providence College in Rhode Island for a speech. At a 2010 anti-immigrant rally at the State House in Providence, Dionisopoulos spoke to the crowd and quoted the white supremacist Sam Francis.

Another attendee at the July 15 event was Robert Vandervoort, the executive director of the anti-immigrant group ProEnglish. Vandervoort is report­edly the for­mer head of the white suprema­cist group Chicagoland Friends of Amer­i­can Renais­sance, a local chap­ter of the white suprema­cist orga­ni­za­tion Amer­i­can Renais­sance. Another extremist in attendance on July 15 was Barbara Coe, a racist figure who leads the California Coalition for Immigration Reform (CCIR), a xenophobic group based in Huntington Beach, California.

Signs Depicting Anti-Immigrant and Other Bigoted Rhetoric at the Rally

Many protesters at the July 15 event held up signs provided by BALA but various attendees brought homemade signs, many with anti-immigrant and bigoted rhetoric. Some protesters wore t-shirts with a picture of Florida Senator Marco Rubio riding a donkey and dressed in a sombrero and holding out a card with the word “green card” written on it. The t-shirt and other banners at the rally promoted the website MarcoRubioAmnestyMan.com, a site attacking Rubio for his views on immigration reform which contains a video of a song titled, “Marco Rubio Amnesty Man.” The song, also attacking Rubio, contains the line “now talk about your dreams and wishes; soon you won’t be washing dishes.”

One large sign simply had the word “deport” written on it. The back on the sign said “End The Fed” and advertised “infowars.com,” a website run by anti-government extremist Alex Jones. Another large sign read, “Regulated Integrated Immigration – No More Uncontrolled Invasion.” Another read, “America is broke. We can’t afford unlimited illegals who will become democrats.” The argument that immigrants will vote overwhelmingly for the Democratic Party is one voiced by the racist John Tanton, the founder of the anti-immigrant movement, who used it in an effort to convince Republican politicians to vote against pro-immigrant legislation.

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