Rally in Support of Arizona Immigration Law Attracts Extremists
Supporters of Arizona SB 1070, including Arizona State Senator Russell Pearce, who authored the bill; Sheriff Joe Arpaio, the Maricopa County sheriff known for his anti-immigrant policies; and Tom Tancredo, the former U.S. Representative from Colorado, are organizing a June 5, 2010, rally in support of this law, the harshest anti-immigration legislation in the country. This rally will also bring together some of the most virulent anti-immigrant groups in the country and some well-known racists.
Although the rally is being presented as a mainstream event, the American Border Patrol, an anti-immigrant hate group run by Glenn Spencer is one of its co-sponsors. Spencer has made virulently anti-Latino comments and has appeared at events hosted by two white supremacist groups, the Council of Conservative Citizens and American Renaissance.
Various speakers scheduled to appear at the rally regularly demonize immigrants, particularly those from Mexico. They claim that these immigrants are responsible for numerous ills in this country, including crime, disease and the destruction of American culture. Others scheduled to speak have been active in Minutemen border vigilante groups, which have used armed volunteers to patrol the border between the U.S. and Mexico.
Scheduled speakers at the rally include the following:
- Barbara Coe, head of the anti-immigrant hate group, California Coalition for Immigration Reform (CCIR), is a racist who has attended meetings of the Council of Conservative Citizens and has written articles for the group’s publication. In addition, she was the co-author of Prop 187 in California, an anti-immigrant initiative that was eventually overturned by the federal government.
- Jeff Schwilk, leader of the San Diego Minutemen (SDMM), one of the more extreme Minutemen groups, has been involved in border vigilante actions in both California and Arizona. The group has been particularly aggressive in targeting employers who hire Hispanic day laborers as well as the laborers themselves. Members of the SDMM have made derogatory and racist comments against Latinos. The SDMM is part of the Southern California Patriot Coalition, which includes the CCIR. Schwilk is also the team leader in San Diego County for the FIRE Coalition, a national anti-immigrant group.
- Al Garza, founder and president of the Patriot’s Coalition, held the position of vice president of the Minutemen Civil Defense Corps (MCDC), a border vigilante group founded by Chris Simcox, until the summer of 2009. The MCDC dissolved in March 2010 after citing concerns about “their volunteers’ safety and accelerating liability issues” in connection with views expressed by more extreme members of the group.
- Col. Al Rodriguez is the chairman of You Don’t Speak for Me (YDSFM), a group founded in 2006 by the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR). FAIR is the largest anti-immigrant group in the country and has a history of ties to white supremacists. YDSFM members speak at anti-immigrant events across the country, alongside border vigilante activists and anti-immigration figures. The group promotes a xenophobic message while attempting to avoid charges of racism by presenting itself as a coalition of Hispanic Americans.
- Lupe Moreno, founder of Latino Americans for Immigration Reform, was once a prominent member of YDSFM. She has also called herself “one of the original Minutewomen.” During a June 2007 fundraiser for former U.S. Representative Tom Tancredo, Moreno discussed “going out with [Minuteman leader] Jim Gilchrist to the Naco [Arizona] border to defend this nation,” referencing her participation in the April 2005 Minuteman Project. One of Moreno’s fellow speakers at the fundraiser was Jeff Schwilk.
- Ted Hayes is the former leader of Choose Black America, a defunct anti-immigrant group that was also founded by FAIR. Hayes also has worked in conjunction with the Minutemen to stage anti-immigrant events.
- Terry Anderson has ties to several key figures in the anti-immigrant movement. Anderson hosts The Terry Anderson Show, an anti-immigrant radio program. On the show, he has interviewed a number of anti-immigrant figures including a member of CCIR; William Gheen of American for Legal Immigration Political Action Committee (ALIPAC); and Glenn Spencer, leader of American Border Patrol. Anderson has himself appeared a number of times on The Political Cesspool, a Tennessee-based radio show hosted by white supremacist James Edwards that routinely features neo-Nazis and white supremacists as guests.