After a long period of inactivity, a virulent anti-immigrant group and its controversial founder are planning to make their presence known again in Chicago. Last week, Rosanna Pulido announced an Illinois Minutemen “reunion tour,” targeting immigrant rights organizations. Pulido has a long history within the nativist movement and an extensive track record of bigoted remarks.
The Illinois Minutemen have announced plans to protest a Tuesday afternoon immigration event in Chicago. In an email to members, Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) national field director Susan Tully endorsed the Minutemen action: “I hope that you’ll be able to join us next week in Chicago at the ‘Save the American Worker’ Rally.”
“We are monitoring the re-emergence of Pulido and the Illinois Minutemen,” said Jill Garvey, Executive Director of the Center for New Community. “This is an extremist group that employs violent and hateful rhetoric to demonize immigrants, Muslims and LGBT communities.”
Pulido is a former field staff representative for FAIR, an influential anti-immigrant organization founded by white nationalist John Tanton. Pulido, along with FAIR and the Minutemen, has not demonstrated any real interest in advocating for the American worker – and has not offered any initiatives or projects to do so.
Groups like FAIR have attempted to wedge communities that historically support civil rights – going so far as to create front groups to target organized labor (most recently Americans4Work and the Coalition for the Future American Worker), liberals and environmentalists (Progressives for Immigration Reform), and Catholics (Catholics for a Moral Immigration Policy). In 2006, FAIR, Center for Immigration Studies, and NumbersUSA, launched ChooseBlackAmerica, an African-American front group.
Similarly, in an attempt to appeal to Latinos, FAIR recruited Pulido, who is Mexican-American, to lead its You Don’t Speak for Me coalition — a front group that unsuccessfully tried to convince Latino communities that they were competing economically with immigrants. During her time in the spotlight, Pulido amassed a trove of anti-Catholic and racist comments:
“The Catholic Church is not Catholicism. It has nothing to do with Christianity or the Bible.”
Of the Catholic Church and immigration: “What better way to fill your pews and fill your offering coffers than with inviting in and giving sanctuary to illegal aliens.”
Pulido has been denounced by groups across the political spectrum, particularly during her ill-fated run for Illinois’ 5th Congressional District seat in 2009. During the campaign it came to light that Pulido had been posting derogatory comments online under the pseudonym Chicagolady.
Under that name, Pulido compared Muslims at prayer to dogs “smelling buts [sic]” and said she preferred to give her guns to liberals “bullets first.” She also said politicians should be “publicly hung for treason,” and that she believed gays were indoctrinating kids.
As a result, she lost key support from Republican allies and any remaining political credibility.
Nevertheless, Pulido and the Illinois Minutemen are attempting, once again, to assert themselves as relevant in the immigration debate. While there is no reason to be alarmed, their resurfacing is worth watching closely.