The national debate is playing at ground level in terrifying ways. This report by the Anti-Defamation League is worth reading. -Angela
ADL Report: Extremists Declare 'Open Season' on Immigrants; Hispanics Target of Incitement and Violence
Washington, DC, April 24, 2006 … White supremacists and other far-right extremists are engaging in a growing number of violent assaults against legal and illegal immigrants and those perceived to be immigrants, while singling out all Hispanic Americans as potential targets, according to a new report from the Anti-Defamation League (ADL). To counter this emerging new threat, the League has outlined a broad public policy Action Agenda stressing Congressional action and increased vigilance by law enforcement.
Extremists Declare 'Open Season' on Immigrants: Hispanics Target of Incitement and Violence takes a detailed look at how white supremacists, racist skinheads and others identifying with far-right extremist groups are using the national debate over immigration reform as a means to encourage likeminded racists to speak out, or even commit violent acts against immigrants. The full report was issued today at a special session at the ADL Shana Amy Glass National Leadership Conference in Washington, D.C.
"It is time to shine the spotlight on those who have seized upon the immigration debate as an opportunity to advance their agenda of hate, bigotry and white supremacy," said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director. "This report reminds us that there is a direct connection between the national policy debate and the atmosphere surrounding the daily lives of immigrants. Extremist groups are seeking to exploit the flow of foreign workers into this country to spread a message of xenophobia, to promote hateful stereotypes and to incite bigotry and violence against Hispanics, regardless of their status as citizens."
The extreme fringe of the anti-immigration movement includes white supremacist groups, anti-Hispanic hate groups masquerading as immigration reform groups, and vigilante border patrol groups who have conducted armed patrols along the borders of the United States.
While most hate crimes targeting Hispanics have not been the work of the extremist groups themselves, the groups' virulent anti-Hispanic rhetoric has contributed to a broader climate of hate. Thus, it comes as no surprise that since 2000, the FBI has reported over 2,500 hate crimes directed at individuals on the basis of their Hispanic ethnicity. The reluctance of many victims to cooperate with law enforcement authorities compounds the safety risk.
The new focus by far-right extremists on Hispanics in particular and the immigration debate more generally has been borne out over the past several years with an increase of violence against Hispanics, according to the ADL report. The report also shows that white supremacist organizations have also amplified their hate-filled rhetoric as the issue of comprehensive immigration reform has moved to the forefront of national policy debates.
The Rhetoric: Racists Declare "Open Season" on Immigrants
The new ADL report cites examples of virulent anti-immigration rhetoric from both notorious and lesser-known figures on the American far-right scene. Some examples include:
• "Slowly but surely we are headed toward the solution that I have been advocating for years: KILL ILLEGAL ALIENS AS THEY CROSS INTO THE U.S. When the stench of rotting corpses gets bad enough, the rest will stay away." -- New Jersey Racist radio talk show host Hal Turner, October 31, 2005.
• "We now have another game animal to add to our list of available targets for our favorite pastime, hunting, and we'll declare permanent OPEN SEASON on these dirty wetbacks! From what I've heard through the grapevine the Skinheads and Klans across the country are more than prepared for this type of action. I say let's play by state and see which state can claim the most kills and let the jewsmedia whores keep score!" – Web site of Aryan Nations faction leader August Kreis, October 2005.
• "They (Hispanics) are barbarians, they are our enemies, they want to destroy our civilization and we have to fight them. We need to organize better and be more open activists; otherwise, I only see race war in the future – post by "AllisioRex"on the neo-Nazi Web forum, Stormfront, July 2005.
Aside from racist rhetoric against Hispanics, white supremacists also have been urging each other and white Americans as a whole to "fight back" against the perceived "invasion" of the U.S. by organizing explicitly anti-immigration counter-protests and events. The ADL report notes, for example, that White Revolution, an Arkansas-based neo-Nazi group, asked its followers to participate in a national "Anti-Invasion Day" on April 10, 2006 in response to pro-immigrant marches planned for that day.
"The rhetoric we are seeing about Hispanics is downright scary," said Mr. Foxman. "While these sentiments are often relegated to the private chat rooms, blogs and message boards maintained by hate groups, it only takes one individual with hate in his heart to act on these notions. For us, that is a very real concern as the national discussion on immigration continues to gain momentum."
The Violence: Growing Number of Assaults
The past several years have seen a growing number of violent assaults and attacks by white supremacists against legal and illegal Hispanic immigrants, as well as Hispanic American citizens, with crimes ranging from vandalism to brutal assaults and murders. In most cases the perpetrators did not even know the victims, but targeted them solely because of their appearance.
Some examples include:
• November 2005, Texas: Christopher Chubasco Wilkins, a prison escapee, was recaptured and charged with murdering three men in the Fort Worth area during his month-long escape. Wilkins, who according to police is a self-proclaimed white separatist, is alleged to have shot and killed two Hispanic men and one African-American man.
• October 2005, California: A Sacramento man and two other suspects were arrested and charged with allegedly attacking and injuring six people in a hate-crime spree at two local parties. One of the alleged perpetrators was charged with using brass knuckles after shouting epithets against Hispanics and proclaiming "white pride" at a party.
• September 2005, Utah: A federal judge sentenced Lance Vanderstappen to 20 years in prison for trying to kill a Hispanic man while in a holding cell in July 2005. The victim had stab wounds to his neck, throat and chest. At a court appearance Vanderstappen, a member of the notorious Soldiers of Aryan Culture white supremacist prison gang, admitted that he targeted the victim because he was Hispanic.
• May 2005, Arizona: White Supremacist Steve Boggs received the death sentence for murdering three fast-food workers in Mesa, Arizona during a robbery in 2002. Boggs wrote to a Mesa police detective that he wanted to "rid the world of a few needless illegals."
The ADL Action Agenda
To face this emerging new threat, ADL leaders and Cecilia Muñoz, Vice President for Public Policy of the National Council of La Raza, the largest national Latino civil rights and advocacy organization in the U.S., stood together in Washington, D.C. to outline a broad public policy Action Agenda, encompassing the following points:
• Congress must reform our nation's broken immigration system in a manner that is comprehensive and will serve our security, humanitarian, and economic interests. The current system has created a vulnerable underclass of people living in our communities who lack meaningful rights under our law and are subject to exploitation. This situation creates fodder for extremist groups. Both the tenor and outcome of the reform debate will speak volumes about how we embrace diversity in our own communities and welcome foreigners in our society.
• Law enforcement officials must be prepared to vigorously investigate and, where appropriate, prosecute criminal threats of violence and incitement – including those transmitted over the Internet. Americans deeply value and appreciate the importance of the First Amendment to our Constitution in protecting the speech of all in our pluralistic society. But free speech is not absolute, and criminal threats and incitement should never be ignored.
• Local law enforcement officials should not be tasked to investigate and enforce civil immigration laws. Any effort to direct local police to both "serve and protect" the community and pursue and detain illegal aliens may undermine the trust necessary for local law enforcement officers to perform their job effectively within immigrant communities.
• Congress and the Administration should enact measures and implement school anti-bias education programs which promote civility and acceptance of differences in our society.
• Politicians and civic leaders should never engage in divisive appeals based on race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or religion. Especially as election season heats up, political leaders must set the tone for civil national discourse and play a productive role in shaping attitudes in opposition to all forms of stereotyping and bigotry. Members of Congress and administration officials must avoid demagoguery and should instead seek opportunities to speak out against bigotry, intolerance, and prejudice in our society.
• Civic leaders must exercise national leadership. National leaders from every sector of society – including government, business, labor, religion, and education – should use their prestige and influence to encourage efforts to promote tolerance and harmony and to combat bigotry.
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.