By Miranda Blue | Right Wing Watch
For weeks now, anti-immigrant groups have been hyping a “National Day of Protesting Against Immigration Reform, Amnesty & Border Surge,” meant to be two days of protests in cities across the country in reaction to the Central American children who are coming to the southern border to flee violence in their home countries.
The protests were a bust. Local news reports and pictures posted on social media show anemic turnout, from about 40 people in front of the United Nations in New York to just three at a McClellan, Texas, border control station who wondered if they had gotten the wrong address.
These small but vitriolic protests, although they didn’t meet the hype of their organizers, tell us everything we need to know about today’s anti-immigrant movement.
1. It’s driven by extremists.
This weekend’s protests were organized by three fringe groups: Make Them Listen, Overpasses for America, and Americans for Legal Immigration PAC.
Overpasses for America is a group led by activist James Neighbors that organizes demonstrations over highway overpasses to call for President Obama’s impeachment. The group went a step further this year when it backed Operation American Spring, an effort meant to flood Washington with protesters and force Obama out of office , which also came up slightly short of expectations .
Overpasses frequently shares images like this on its Facebook page:
The group also uses the platform to share its views on immigrants, including this image and its accompanying caption.
Americans for Legal Immigration is a one-man anti-immigrant hate shop run by North Carolina-based activist William Gheen. Gheen has said that “illegal and violent” means might be necessary to remove President Obama from office and has a long record of virulent anti-immigrant rhetoric . Gheen’s last national action was encouraging his supporters to mail used underwear to undocumented immigrants.
Gheen also has ties to the right-wing militia movement: he personally invited the anti-government group Oath Keepers to join the weekend’s protests.
Other groups listed as “participating organizations” in the event included 2 Million Bikers To DC, whose leader wants to repeal all but the first 10 amendments to the Constitution and which deals in racist Facebook images, and Americans Have Had Enough Coalition, which is led by white supremacist Roan Garcia-Quintana .
The largest recent anti-immigrant protests — the attempts to turn back busses of migrant children in Murrieta, California, and Oracle, Arizona — were also populated by anti-government fringe groups. The Murrieta protest, which was organized by activists tied to the Minutemen and the John Birch Society, drew some of the same people who had recently set up shop at the anti-government standoff at the Bundy Ranch.
Miranda Blue writes for Right Wing Watch.