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Racist Groups Exploit Immigration Issues in Effort to Promote Anti-Hispanic Agenda

New York, NY, June 15, 2005 With mounting public awareness and concern over illegal immigration in America, the issue is being co-opted and exploited by anti-immigration activists, some of whom are reaching out to racist and anti-Semitic hate groups, according to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL).  The rhetoric of these activists is largely aimed at Mexicans, not other illegal aliens, and frequently does not distinguish between Mexicans and Mexican-Americans.

In the most recent effort by radical anti-immigration organizations and individuals to exploit mainstream immigration concerns, a three-day summit to "Unite to Fight Against Illegal Immigration" was held in Las Vegas, Nevada, May 27 29.  More than 400 people gathered to hear speakers describe illegal immigrants as "the enemy within" and "illegal barbarians," while suggesting that America was "at war" with illegal immigrants and calling for the need to "take America back."

"These groups are hiding behind the mask of illegal immigration when their real concern is the growing Mexican-American population," said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director.  "While there are legitimate concerns for America regarding illegal immigration, the fact that border vigilantes, and in some instances racist and anti-Semitic hate groups, are exploiting these concerns to promote an anti-Hispanic agenda is very troubling."

Organized by Mark Edwards, a local talk radio host and his "Wake Up America Foundation," a new anti-immigrant group, and promoted by Team America, an anti-immigration PAC founded by Colorado Congressman Tom Tancredo, the Las Vegas rally was held as a follow-up on the perceived success of the so-called "Minuteman Project," which organized vigilante patrols of the U.S.-Arizona border in April.  The project attracted a number of white supremacists.  At the rally, Minuteman Project co-founder Jim Gilchrist claimed his group wasn't racist, but referred to immigrants as the "Mexican Klan" and "Mexican Nazis."

In the weeks leading up to the event, the virulently anti-Semitic and neo-Nazi National Alliance circulated fliers throughout southern Arizona describing illegal immigration as an "invasion" that would cause whites to become a minority.

National Alliance spokesman Shaun Walker endorsed the project and a number of National Alliance members took part.  Another white supremacist group, Aryan Nations, called the Minuteman Project, "a call for action on the part of ALL ARYAN SOLDIERS."

Meanwhile, some anti-immigration activists have been reaching out to unambiguous white supremacists.  The recent "Protect Arizona Now" (PAN) initiative, an anti-immigration ballot initiative that recently passed in Arizona, was spearheaded by a group led by Virginia Abernethy, an unabashed "white supremacist" associated with the racist publication, "The Occidental Quarterly." 

As part of a nationwide effort to replicate PAN, Arkansas anti-immigration activists have created Protect Arkansas Now, led by Joe McCutchen, another person with strong ties to hate groups.  In both instances, despite their ties to white supremacy having been exposed, Abernathy and McCutchen remained in their positions.


The Anti-Defamation League, founded in 1913, is the world's leading organization fighting anti-Semitism through programs and services that counteract hatred, prejudice and bigotry.



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2005 Anti-Defamation League