New Jersey Citizens for Immigration Control (NJCIC) claims to be a “non-partisan, grassroots organization of New Jersey citizens who are concerned about the influx of illegal aliens into our communities.” However, the rhetoric, actions, and affiliations of its leadership reveal it to be among the numerous local citizen groups that demonize Hispanics.
NJCIC promotes classic anti-immigrant themes; the front page of its Website declares “Stop the Invasion!” advancing the claim that immigrants are aggressively overtaking the United States. More specifically, the group is “concerned about the effects of this influx on our educational system and our law enforcement system,” which supports the argument that undocumented immigrants are placing strain on elements of America’s infrastructure.
The group’s leadership
NJCIC’s leadership is comprised mainly of co-chairs Gayle Kesselman and John Rucki, who often attend and speak, on behalf of NJCIC, at events hosted by other anti-immigrant groups.
In October 2007, Kesselman spoke at an anti-immigrant rally in New Jersey. She explained that she became involved in the movement after attending a speech by Susan Tully, a Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) field representative. Kesselman said that the experience “opened [her] eyes.” She went on to discuss “how much the state of New Jersey pays for services for illegal aliens,” and the figures she gave were based entirely on a study completed by FAIR. She also explained that by providing “services” to undocumented immigrants, “corporations and politicians are…importing third world poverty into our country…” Fellow speakers included Paul Topete, the lead singer of the anti-government, anti-immigrant band Poker Face; Carmen Morales, a You Don’t Speak for Me leader; and other anti-immigrant figures. Topete, a virulent anti-Semite, encouraged the audience to set aside any differing beliefs to combat “slave wage invaders.”
Kesselman also participates and speaks at events that seek to demonize Muslims. In September 2007, she joined a group in protesting the Muslim Day Parade in New York. She carried a sign that read “Say No To Islamo-Nazis,” equating participants in this mainstream parade to Nazis. Kesselman also spoke at the March 2007 “Rally Against Islamo-Fascism” in New York sponsored by the United American Committee, an anti-Muslim group.
In its May 4, 2008 issue, the Bergen Record published a letter from Kesselman in which she argued that a New Jersey U.S. Attorney, in an attempt to “further his political career,” ignored the possibility of “the political and economic infrastructure of New Jersey get[ting] destroyed by uncontrolled illegal immigration.” The newspaper identified Kesselman as “the co-chairwoman of New Jersey Citizens for Immigration Control.” Another letter of Kesselman’s, published in the Newark, New Jersey-based Star Ledger in July 2006, discussed the “illegals, including terrorists, who have invaded our country…”
To broadcast its views, NJCIC organizes meetings and rallies which bring together anti-immigrant figures and groups. The group’s Website advertised a June 2008 “educational public forum” in New Jersey co-sponsored with FAIR, the largest anti-immigrant group in the country. The forum was entitled “The Effects of Illegal Immigration on the New Jersey Taxpayer,” and scheduled speakers included leaders from NJCIC and FAIR, along with leaders of the anti-immigrant group You Don’t Speak for Me, a FAIR offshoot.
In October 2007, NJCIC sponsored a rally in New Jersey to support “immigration control” and legislation that empowers local law enforcement to initiate deportation proceedings for undocumented immigrants. The rally featured leaders and representatives of other anti-immigrant groups as speakers. During Kesselman’s speech, she argued that “there are people that are coming over here, for no other reason than to enrich themselves, at our expense.” Another speaker, Carmen Morales of You Don’t Speak for Me, stated, “Remember, illegal aliens and their supporters have a different mentality, where if they do not get their way, they will burn buildings and destroy our towns one at a time for that’s how they handle it in their own countries.”
Supporting anti-immigrant policies
Like many of the other citizen activist groups in the anti-immigrant movement, NJCIC supports legislation that focuses on combating the harm that undocumented immigrants allegedly inflict upon individual states. To achieve this end, NJCIC favors legislation that would deny public benefits, including medical care and in-state college tuition, to undocumented immigrants. NJCIC also actively seeks the implementation, “in every town and county of New Jersey,” of legislation that deputizes local law enforcement to enforce federal immigration laws. The group devotes an entire page on its Website to supporting that goal. While many mainstream groups have similar policy aims, NJCIC’s tactics and statements from group leaders demonize immigrants rather than simply advocate for certain policies.
Ties to other anti-immigrant groups
In addition to working with other groups, NJCIC posts links on its Website to several anti-immigrant groups, including FAIR, Americans for Legal Immigration Political Action Committee (ALIPAC), and Mothers Against Illegal Aliens (MAIA). NJCIC also links its Website to those of the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps, a border vigilante group, and “American Patrol Report,” a Website run by Glenn Spencer, who leads the virulently anti-Hispanic American Border Patrol group. NJCIC’s “Links” page states that the group is “proud to provide links to these fine organizations…”