Immigrants Targeted: Extremist Rhetoric Moves into the Mainstream
Mothers Against Illegal Aliens - Arizona
In January 2006, Michelle Dallacroce founded Mothers Against Illegal Aliens (MAIA), a group that, in her words, was formed “to show every mother in America what is going on on our streets.” Through media appearances, connections with extremists, and personal appearances at anti-immigration events, Dallacroce promotes themes that demonize immigrants. She describes immigrants as a “mass invasion” of unintelligent, disrespectful, conspiratorial criminals while targeting her message to women and families. She focuses on immigration as a threat to American children and denigrates the values of immigrant families, branding immigrant children as “dumb” and violent.
Denigrating immigrant children
The MAIA “Mission Statement” directs readers to:
…decide if our children are the forgotten and silent victims when it comes to their education in schools overrun by illegal aliens and to their safety from a border in peril. Ultimately, it is up to you to decide for yourself if you want to get involved, protect your family and country, or if you’d rather watch from the sidelines and let our government do your bidding as it gives away your livelihood, your future and your country to a foreign entity that is dictating U.S. immigration policy…our children and our country are at risk of being eliminated!
Dallacroce, echoing the same theme in an interview on the radio show of anti-immigrant activist Frosty Wooldridge in October 2007, stated, “The thing is, the children in our schools are being taught bad habits, the school systems are being dumbed down, it’s a matter of fact.” She had previously voiced the same sentiments in a May 2006 interview on CNN’s Nancy Grace, where she said, "My children, as well as my grandchildren and everyone’s legal citizen children in our schools, are being affected, dumbed down."
Dallacroce has also claimed that immigrant children are not only “dumb” but raised to be disrespectful and violent. Following an immigration rights Labor Day rally at the Arizona State Capitol in September 2006, media accounts described a woman screaming at a child through a bull horn, surrounded by counter-protestors who referred to Mexicans as “dogs.” In an Internet post, Dallacroce admitted, "I am the lady who is being talked about…We have a prime example of what kind of children are being born and what they are being taught by their illegal alien parents to disobey and disrespect American citizens. This 9 year old boy is being taught to be a violent and hostile child. If this was my child I would have washed his mouth out with soap or better yet, I would have put a lot of tabasco sauce in his mouth..."
Blaming immigrants for diseases
In addition to claiming that children of immigrants are destroying the nation’s school systems, MAIA maintains that undocumented immigrants import diseases into the United States. A January 2008 article in the Washington Post explained that “Mothers Against Illegal Aliens recently posted a plea for people to bring their own sheets and utensils to hotels and restaurants” because of the potential for disease that the immigrant workers might have. The article was referring to a longer derogatory post made to the MAIA Website in November 2007:
…with diseases such as mono, chagas, hepatitis, staff infections, and flesh eating diseases, which are noted in this report, it is reasonable for a reasonable person to conclude that many of these diseases are here and on the rise because of our OPEN AND INSECURE BORDER with Mexico and the fact that Illegal Aliens are not subject to medical inspection or certification, as are legal applicants. With our children being exposed to and infected by the SUPERBUG in our schools, it should not be inconceivable that we are now being exposed and subjected to attacks by diseases which put our lives at risk because of learned bad behavior and unexceptable [sic] and prohibited cleaning practices which could kill us and our children while staying in any hotel or eating at any restaurant anywhere in America!!!!! The next time you eat in a restaurant or sleep in a hotel or motel....just remember to bring your own food, dishes, untensils [sic], glasses, towels, and maybe your own water. The person who cooked your meal or made your bed may very well be the one who picked your fruit and vegetables, yesterday....and we’ve heard the stories about what they do in the fields....haven’t we?
A month earlier in interview on the Frosty Woolridge radio show, Dallacroce made similar claims, declaring , “…we’ve got people dying on the street, being killed, we’ve got children in schools catching diseases, that was just on the news…”
Dallacroce goes beyond anti-immigrant rhetoric; she has also voiced opposition to diversity. She claimed that Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) has been “hijacked by La Raza” [a Hispanic advocacy group] in response to MADD’s October 2007 request that MAIA remove the “Mothers Against” from its group name. In the October 2007 interview with Wooldridge, Dallacroce makes recommendations for steps that she would like MADD to take. She explains, “the second thing I would like them to do is actually, uh, stop this whole diversity thing because we’re in America, and we’re not supposed to be diverse. We’re one nation.”
Promoting the “reconquista” conspiracy theory
Dallacroce has also proclaimed that America is under attack by Mexico. She promotes the conspiracy theory that Mexican immigrants are trying to reclaim land in the United States that once belonged to Mexico. MAIA’s current “Mission Statement” states, “We are not only at war with Iraq, but we ARE at WAR with MEXICO; a silent war with Aztlanders…”
In an April 2006 appearance on FOX News’s Hannity and Colmes, Dallacroce made several derogatory statements about Hispanics, then alleged that Mexicans are engaged in a plot to reclaim the American Southwest. She explained, “What we have got coming over here, that people don't respect the American people. They don't respect America. They want to take over the Southwest...They're using our hospitals…they're tearing apart our country.”
Ties to the Minutemen and a white supremacist
To help keep undocumented workers out of the United States, Dallacroce has publicly supported and worked alongside the border vigilante Minutemen. The Minutemen are a loose network of local chapters around the country, whose primary goal is to keep undocumented immigrants from Mexico out of the United States. The more extreme Minutemen chapters advocate patrols of the Mexican-American border by armed volunteers.
Dallacroce counter-protested with the Minutemen at a pro-immigrant rally at the Arizona State Capitol in September 2006. That same month, she spoke at a Minuteman rally in Arizona and in February 2006, she spoke at a Minuteman rally at the U.S. Capitol. According to the Arizona Daily Star, at a February 2006 MAIA demonstration in Arizona, Dallacroce stated, "By us supporting the Minuteman...we working [sic] together to protect our families.”
In 2007, however, Dallacroce criticized a major Minuteman leader for “compromising.” A December 2007 Arizona Daily Star article discussed Dallacroce’s opinions of Chris Simcox, the founder of the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps, a border vigilante patrol group. The article explained that “Simcox inspired [Dallacroce] to join the anti-illegal entrant movement,” but then quoted Dallacroce as stating that Simcox was “giving in” because he made statements supportive of public education and health care for children of undocumented immigrants.
In addition to her work with the Minutemen, Dallacroce has appeared with white supremacist J.T. Ready. When Ready organized a rally at the Phoenix Mexican Consulate in April 2006, Dallacroce was an invited speaker. Ready, who advocates placing landmines across the border, was a Minuteman volunteer. He attends Klan and neo-Nazi events and was a “special guest speaker” at a September 2007 protest against the Mexican Consulate in Omaha, Nebraska, sponsored by the neo-Nazi National Socialist Movement.
In spite of Dallacroce’s activities and extremist ties and MAIA’s continued demonization of undocumented immigrants, her group enjoys mainstream exposure. MAIA’s positions have been given voice in various mainstream media outlets, including the Los Angeles Times, the Washington Post, the Orlando Sentinel, and Fox News.