Our VoiceImmigration

Nativist coalition tries to replicate Murrieta protests, fails to impact elections

Imagine 2050 Staff • Aug 11, 2014

A sign from an anti-immigrant protest in Lansing, Michigan, on Aug. 2. (Via Facebook)


On August 2, anti-immigrant activists staged demonstrations at the offices of five members of Congress that they consider to be “pro-amnesty” ahead of upcoming primary challenges.

“We have a new and powerful American populist movement that is rapidly forming to save the nation,” Americans for Legal Immigration PAC (ALIPAC) President William Gheen said in an email ahead of the planned demonstrations. “If we fail to sweep the 2014 Elections this could be the last ride of the Americans!”

Apparently, not enough people got Gheen’s message. All five members of Congress targeted by protests on August 2 easily won their primary elections last week.

Anti-immigrant activists are trying to boost the relevance of their nativist agenda during August’s Congressional recess. To do this, several anti-immigrant groups have formed the “National Illegal Immigration Protest Coalition” (NIIPC) to organize protests across the country.

NIIPC’s chief organizers, ALIPAC and Overpasses for America, were also involved in organizing a previous weekend of nationwide protests in July. Other NIIPC members include multiple state level groups affiliated with the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), NumbersUSA, and the far-right, anti-government Oath Keepers.

A sign from an anti-immigrant protest in Lansing, Michigan, on Aug. 2. (Via Facebook)

Photos uploaded to Facebook depicting a demonstration – seemingly connected to NIIPC’s national protests — in Lansing, Michigan, exhibited the true bigotry motivating these events. A handful of anti-immigrant activists held a demonstration near a highway exit ramp and brandished signs reading such things as “Immigration is a Government Sponsored Attack on Patriotic Americans” and “Diversity Creates Civil Wars.” ALIPAC’s website lists information for scores of similar protests scheduled in the coming weeks.

NIIPC members are not the only far-right activists staging poorly attended, largely ineffective anti-immigrant demonstrations this month either. Over the last week, conservative media personalities Eric Odom and Pete Santelli have worked with nativist activists from Murrieta, California, to organize a nine-day “Border Convoy” staging events in multiple cities and states along the U.S.-Mexico border. According to the convoy’s website, organizers and participants “seek to positively impact the immigration dialogue by supporting local communities taking a stand against the federal government.”

While the convoy has not done much to influence “the immigration dialogue,” it did successfully halt traffic on a major interstate highway. They did this again on August 3 when their ten-vehicle convoy brought traffic to a standstill on Interstate 10 near El Paso, Texas. The traffic jam was ostensibly created when convoy vehicles were stopped by police investigating allegations that one convoy participant pointed a rifle at an immigration advocate. From there, they continued travelling east to San Antonio where, as local media reported, a convoy event last Wednesday drew a paltry six attendees.

Over the last several months, the anti-immigrant movement has cynically exploited a humanitarian crisis to advance its policy goals. While many of these public demonstrations have proven to be poorly-attended and ineffective, nativist organizers are showing no signs of stopping. The extreme individuals and ideology motivating the NIIPC events and similar protests across the country also motivate Beltway anti-immigrant groups and their Congressional allies. Whether it’s on the streets in our communities or in the Capitol Hill offices of our elected officials, this dangerous agenda must continue to be publicly opposed and marginalized.

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