Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Exclusionists amplify anger; weaponized immigration prophecy fulfilled

Fulfilling (and in some cases self-fulfilling) the pundits' prophecies in 2005 that immigration would be a "vibrant" political issue in 2006 (story here), local exclusionists see Hispanic immigrants as a threat and are increasingly professing their views in anger, according to this article in the Nashville City Paper and this article in the Tennessean.

"On Web sites, talk radio shows and in interviews, anti-illegal immigration activists describe Hispanic migrants as lawless, disease-ridden 'invaders' waging an undeclared war against the United States."

"'The illegals coming to this country are turning the nation into a Third World country,' said [Clarksville resident Delfina] Espinoza, who met her husband, when he stopped her near the Mexican border, incorrectly suspecting she might be an illegal immigrant. 'They take no pride in America and have no respect for anyone.'"

"Beyond concerns about unemployment, declining wages and over-tapped public services, many activists say their primary fear is that the sheer number of Hispanic migrants will drown American culture."

"Many books and articles touted by the anti-illegal immigration movement carry dire warnings of impending race wars as hordes of Hispanics bent on re-conquering America convert middle-class suburbs into Mexican barrios."

"'What you are seeing happen is the destruction of our way of life,' [according to Tennessee resident Theresa Harmon]. 'Anytime you see a nation go over to an entirely different culture and different nationality, you're going to see a fight.'"

"'Slaves helped build this country, and what you have here are invaders who come here with arrogance and demand to get all the things we worked for,' said Michael Holt, 51, a Bordeaux native who retired from an aircraft part manufacturing plant in Nashville."

"In Blount County last year, two men were sentenced to four and a half years in prison for vandalizing and painting Nazi symbols on a Mexican food store in Maryville. Also last year, a federal judge sentenced former correction officer and KKK member Daniel James Schertz of South Pittsburg, Tenn., to 14 years in prison after he pled guilty to making five pipe bombs to blow up a bus carrying Mexican workers from Tennessee to Florida."

Nationally, "U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo, a Colorado Republican who chairs the 92-member bipartisan House Immigration Reform Caucus, told a group of activists last year that illegal immigration is part of a global plot to destroy America."

Some of the anger has been targeted at legislators, according to this wire article reprinted in the Nashville Rage:

"Before Rep. Luis Gutierrez could wrap up a recent round of appearances on conservative talk shows, some angry callers were lighting up the switchboard in his Washington office and demanding the seven-term congressman go back to Mexico."

"Only Gutierrez, D-Ill., was born in Chicago and is of Puerto Rican descent."

"Sen. Ken Salazar, D-Colo., also in the forefront of the immigration debate, says he, too, has received nasty calls and e-mails."

"Salazar said he has been accused of being involved with the issue only because of his Mexican-American background. Yet, he said, his family has farmed the same land 150 years in southern Colorado and his family founded Santa Fe, N.M., 408 years ago."

"In recent weeks, Rep. Linda Sanchez, D-Calif., the only Hispanic on the House Judiciary's immigration subcommittee, has received three red bricks, each wrapped in a note telling the congresswoman to use the brick to help build a wall along the Mexican border. None of them came from her district, spokesman Jim Dau said."

Tennessee's exclusionist representatives are getting some of the same bricks.

"Other lawmakers, including non-Hispanic House members such as Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., also have received bricks but welcome the gesture. Six bricks are stacked in Blackburn's office."

Blackburn was elected to the House in part because of her prominence as an exclusionist.

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