In response to the humanitarian crisis at the border, which has seen an influx of children fleeing violence in Central America, a number of anti-immigrant activists and right-wing groups are planning two national days of protest on July 18 and 19 against “immigration reform amnesty and the border surge.”
The flyer for the event features the same extreme anti-immigrant rhetoric seen recently at protests in Murrieta, California and Vassar, Michigan. The flyer claims that “illegal aliens with communicable diseases and conditions such as tuberculosis, scabies and head lice are entering our country unabated.” It goes on to warn of a “very real security risk to Americans from drug cartels, gang members and terrorists.”
The organizer of the proposed nationwide events scheduled for July 18 and 19 is Paul Arnold, an anti-immigrant activist and founder of the anti-immigrant group “Make Them Listen.” Arnold is closely tied to the anti-immigrant front group Black American Leadership Alliance (BALA). He helped organize BALA’s “March for Jobs” anti-immigrant rally in July 2013 which was attended by about 800 people. Arnold also helped to organize anti-immigrant rallies in different states in August 2013 as part of a BALA “tour.” Many of the proposed rallies were cancelled due to lack of participants and the few that did take place were sparsely attended
The Facebook event page for this weekend’s planned protests indicates that a number of extreme anti-immigrant groups are allegedly planning to participate. For example, the South Carolina-based anti-immigrant group Americans Have Had Enough Coalition (AHHEC) plans to hold a protest in the state this weekend. White supremacist Roan Garcia-Quintana is the executive director of AHHEC and is also a director and “lifetime member” of the white supremacist organization Council of Conservative Citizens.
Another group planning to participate in the protests this weekend is the North Carolina-based Americans for Legal Immigration PAC (ALI-PAC), essentially a one man operation run by anti-immigrant extremist William Gheen. Gheen has a long history of anti-immigrant rhetoric. In his recent statements about the humanitarian crisis, for example, Gheen advocated sending “gently used” underwear to John Boehner and President Obama in protest of the border patrol’s plea for citizens to send new pairs of underwear for the migrants fleeing violence.
A number of other very active anti-immigrant organizations from around the country including Minnesotans Seeking Immigration Reform (MINNSIR), New Yorkers for Immigration Control and
Enforcement (NYICE) and Help Save Maryland (HSM) are also scheduled to participate at rallies in their states. Though it is unlikely the protests will attract large numbers, the anti-immigrant movement is certainly using the humanitarian crisis at the border to attempt to mobilize its base.