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Illegal immigration: immigration protests are spreading across America. What is the motive? What is the agenda?

From late March to early April, hundreds of thousands of illegal Hispanic immigrants reminded Americans they may yet suffer a wave of violence like that which left Paris burning and the authorities wondering why their ill-conceived invitation for Muslims to immigrate to France exploded in their faces.

Worked into a rage by the "Latino" media, the Internet, and radical activists over proposed legislation on Capitol Hill to slop illegal immigration, Hispanics repeatedly stormed American streets to demand their "rights." In no uncertain terms, they told the American people they are here to slay and no one can do anything about it, least of all the feckless politicians.

The immigrants seemed well-behaved. But one can only imagine what trifling "incident" might have provoked civil turmoil similar to that in France, when Muslims sacked cities and towns with impunity, knowing nothing would be done.

The protests here occurred because our border with Mexico, or La Linea, as the Mexicans call it, is essentially gone. And so is any respect for it. For Mexicans and the kleptocracy that keep them poor and illiterate, the border is no dividing line between two sovereign nations. Instead, it is a mere geographical obstacle to relative prosperity for Mexico's unwanted, unskilled masses.

The Mexican government published a pamphlet with instructions on safely and illegally crossing the border. It lobbies American politicians to open the borders. American Border Patrol agents face regular incursions by Mexican soldiers escorting drug gangs.

Aside from the Fox regime's blatant assault on American sovereignty, we have the illegal aliens themselves. Thousands daily cross at will. Some of them, too many, are criminals who terrorize American citizens. According to Congressman Tom Tancredo (RColo.), 10 percent of the population in U.S. jails and prisons is illegal immigrants. Criminal or no, these illegals bear children in American hospitals, leaving taxpayers with the bills. They send those children to public schools, again, leaving Americans holding the bag. Then they "protest" and hoist Mexican flags.

Meanwhile, Mexican and American authorities, as well as immigration activists, tell these illegal aliens they have a "right" to cross the border illegally, and further, that they have a "right" to stay and demand work, public welfare benefits, free healthcare, and a free education. Former New York Mayor Rudolph Guiliani famously declared he would not help enforce American immigration laws. Other cities are so-called sanctuaries for illegals, and at least two schools, one in California and another in Colorado, have tried to stop their students from bringing the American flag to school, supposedly because such a patriotic display would inflame unassimilated Hispanic students. Speaking for the open-borders lobby of which his party is a part, Democrat Sen. Charles Schumer of New York says the Democrats must "show Hispanics who their real friends are."

A story in the Washington Post about illegal aliens in Gainesville, Georgia, sharpened the point. The principal of the local elementary school, now 70 percent Hispanic, frankly declared her school a sanctuary. "We're not going to ask, 'Are you legal?' That's not our concern," she told the Post. "We let them know that no one is going to come into our schools and do raids. That's not how America works." This, of course, is precisely the puzzle of American immigration policy: no one is going to do raids.

No wonder the protesting immigrants had nothing to fear. Indeed, they served notice on America: submit, or else. Their gauntlet lies before us.

The Protests and Some Numbers

By any measure, the protests drew an astounding number of participants in a surprisingly wide array of cities. On April 10, tens of thousands of screaming foreigners showed up in our nation's capitol as part of "The National Day of Action for Immigrant Justice." The Hispanics called it "La Marcha," and it mirrored nationwide protests that spattered illegal aliens over 100 cities such as Houston, Atlanta, New York, Seattle, and Chicago. The numbers ranged from 2,000 in El Paso to 100,000 in Phoenix. The Hispanic tsunami even swamped small towns. In Garden City, Kansas, population less than 30,000, CNN reported, 3,000 protested.

At the rally in Washington, D.C., the Washington Post reported, the marchers roared threats and demands: "Here were are; we're not leaving," they chanted in Spanish. "This is only the beginning!" one fanatic activist yelled. Replied the seething crowd, "Hoy, marchamos! Manana, votamos!" "Today, we march! Tomorrow, we vote!" In San Diego, the Los Angeles Times reported, protesters placed 400 crosses in Chicano Park to commemorate those who died trying to sneak into the country.

Many of the protesters, following a scripted theme, carried posters that said "We Are Not Criminals," "We Are Not Terrorists," and "We Are America." "Brown and Proud" read one sign in the shadow of The Washington Monument. A Chinese immigrant, Chung-Wa Hong, director of the New York Immigration Coalition, warned that immigrants would never leave, the New York Times reported: "We are inseparable, indivisible and impossible to take out of America."

Impossible indeed. In Portland, Maine, the AP reported, a Hispanic marcher brained a white counter-protester with "something heavy" stuffed in a sock or wrapped in a bandana. The victim was sent to the hospital, treated, and released. The Rev. Virginia Maria Rincon, one of the organizers, said about the victim: "When you promote violence, you get violence." Oppose illegal immigration, and you are "violent."

Unsurprisingly, leftist politicians seized the opportunity to troll for votes. Sen. Hillary Clinton greeted protesters as they crossed the Brooklyn Bridge for the second time in less than two weeks. "Your faces are the faces of America," she told the teeming horde. In Washington, D.C., Sen. Edward Kennedy broke into Spanish, trusting that the major media would not point out that he was kicked out of Harvard for cheating on a Spanish exam. "I see the future of America," Kennedy burbled. And indeed he does--unless present policies are reversed.

La Marcha continued protests that began the day before, when between 350,000 and 500,000 showed up in Dallas pounding drums and shouting, "Si Se Puede," or "Yes, we can." Another 50,000 marched in San Diego, and thousands tromped through cities from Birmingham, Alabama, to Boise, Idaho, from Miami to Michigan.

The protests began on March 25, when 500,000 crammed the streets in Los Angeles. Cavalcades took to the streets in San Francisco, Arizona, Georgia, and Ohio, and after the Mexican muscle seemingly relaxed, it flexed again. On April 1, 20,000 immigrants surfaced on the streets in New York, crossing the Brooklyn Bridge and "demanding an end to second-class citizenship and amnesty for illegal immigrants," as the Washington Post put it.

Even high-school students joined the act. For the protest on April 10, the Montgomery County Schools (Maryland) offered participating students "community service credit" for "service learning hours." Before that, Arlington, Virginia, was the scene of a student protest on March 30, when 1,500 students stretching eight blocks, the Washington Post reported, tramped to the Arlington Court House for a morning of fist shaking. In a threat that surely terrified the protesters, Robert G. Smith, Arlington County Schools Superintendent, warned "that students who do not attend class will be marked 'unexcused,'" the Post reported. Hilariously, Schoolmaster Smith sent nine school buses to pick up the students when the show was over.

On March 27, just as the streets in the City of Angels were returning to normal after the first deluge, 20,000 high-school students marched on city hall. They waved Mexican flags and shouted "Stand up, Latinos!" and "Viva Mexico!" They too demanded their "rights," peacefully and patriotically, of course. "Students in Orange County briefly blocked the Riverside Freeway and Santa Aria Freeway in Fullerton," the Los Angeles Times reported, "waving Mexican flags and tossing a rock that smashed the window of a CHP cruiser."

One student predicted an ominous fate for the city if legislation against illegal immigration passes: "If this law passes, what will happen? There would be no more Los Angeles High School. Nearly all of us are immigrants." Another student explained exactly what most Mexicans really want: "Our parents, our families came here from Mexico. We want other families to be able to come here too."

One reason behind the large turnout at the protests is the size of the illegal population. The sheer number of illegal aliens here is metastasizing daily across the land. Most observers put the number of illegals in American at 11-12 million. The Pew Hispanic Center, which uses 12 million, says that in 1990, when the number of illegals was much smaller, almost half lived in California. Now only a quarter do, despite the state's illegal population growing from nearly 1.5 million to nearly 2.5 million. They are sweeping across our fair land.

In Arizona, out of a population of about 6 million, some 500,000, or 8.3 percent, are illegals. The number may seem unsurprising for Arizona, which shares a border with Mexico, but illegals also are a major problem in the Carolinas, Ohio, and Georgia. North Carolina, with 390,000 illegals in 2004, has watched that population grow 16 times since 1990. South Carolina's illegal population has grown 1,000 times, to 55,000 in 2004. The Yellow Pages for Gainesville, Georgia, the Washington Post reports, contains 41 pages in Spanish, and the local Catholic Church, St. Michael's, has gone from having 25 Hispanic parishioners, who attended a monthly Mass in Spanish, to more than 6,000. The Fieldale poultry plant in Gainesville employed fewer than 100 Hispanics 12 years ago, the Post reported. Now, 3,000 of its 4,700 employees are Hispanic. Nine of 10 children get subsidized meals at the town elementary school, which, again, is 70 percent Hispanic.

Yet sheer numbers aren't the worst news on illegal immigration. Half of illegal aliens, the Center for Immigration Studies reports, did not graduate high school and a third never made the ninth grade. Immigrants, legal and illegal, "comprise about 12 percent of America's workforce, [but] they account for 31 percent of high school dropouts in the workforce.... Between 1979 and 1997, immigrant households increased their representation in the U.S. population by 68 percent, but over that same period their share of the total poor population increased 123 percent."

That said, those startling numbers provide the second reason the protests succeeded. The massive influx of illegals led to Hispanic-language television and radio stations. Hispanic-language programming on highly popular radio stations implored listeners to stage their protests. The agitator-in-chief, apparently, was Eddie Sotelo, who travels on the airwaves under the pseudonym "El Piolin," or "Tweety Bird."

As the Los Angeles Times reported, "the promoters included such on-air celebrities as... Renan 'El Cucuy' (The Boogeyman) Almendarez Coello--whose often risque show has cast him as a sort of Latino version of Howard Stern--and Sotelo .... Coello's and Sotelo's morning talk shows are among the highest-rated programs in any language in Los Angeles." As Mike Garcia, a local union chieftain, told the Times, "They were the key to getting so many people out. If you listened to Spanish-language media, they were just pumping, pumping, pumping this up."

Sotelo, the Times reported, "decided to promote the cause--by calling a summit of his rival deejays to encourage them to do the same--after rally organizers told him about the ramifications of the legislation" in Congress mandating a 700-mile fence on the U.S.-Mexican border and making illegal immigration a felony. "I told God that if he gave me an opportunity as a radio announcer," Sotelo told the Times, "I was going to help my people."

Unsurprisingly, Sotelo landed here illegally, the Times reported. In 1986, he arrived in the trunk of a car. Said Sotelo, "I think we have to make sure the message went through to Washington to let them know we're not criminals."

What the Organizational Ability Means

Yes, illegal aliens are criminals, but that truth aside, that hundreds of thousands of immigrants, many of them illegal, could swamp American streets with impunity to make haughty, ridiculous demands is a sign they feel economically and politically empowered. Yet their power is derived solely from the inability of real Americans to makes changes via their representatives in Congress.

The politicians run scared. They fear the immigrants. Real Americans don't fear them, but the immigration crisis has not, until now, reached a point that might inspire them to demand genuine immigration reform. This truth explains Congress' debating two immigration measures, one being the sensible bill passed in the House of Representatives (H.R. 4437) that would help control illegal immigration, the other being a bill in the Senate that would exacerbate the problem by legalizing the existing 11-12 million border-jumpers (see page 17).

Americans need to consider that illegal Mexicans seem politically powerful only because they have correctly calculated the moral impotence and political cowardice of American politicians. They demonstrate power, and the politicians wheedle and pander. "We do not want to create a fugitive class in America," intoned liberal Republican Senator Arlen Specter of the accommodationist legislation before the Senate. "We do not want to create an underclass in America."

Actually, Specter and others who echo his sentiments created that "fugitive underclass" by not securing the borders and inviting 12 million illegal aliens to partake of the American pie. Yet a nation with a sense of itself, its culture and history, led by men who loved their country more than votes and bribes, would know what to do with illegal aliens: deport them. But the charge of racism and the overblown fear of economic collapse petrify American politicians. They wring their hands wondering what to do and finally fight over who, as Schumer said, can best demonstrate their "friendship." The Mexicans know this and act accordingly.

So do the professional activists, which is why they are organizing a "Day Without an Immigrant" protest and strike for May 1. They're planning "rallies around symbols of economic trade" such as "stock exchanges" and "anti-immigrant corporations"; they promise "No Work, No School, No Sales, and No Buying." If only the illegals would promise to leave.

Which Way America?

Of course, there is no reason for the illegals to leave under present circumstances. The current lax immigration policies must be changed, but those policies will not be changed unless we demand that they be changed.

Simply legalizing the illegals will not solve the growing immigration crisis. As U.S. citizens, we have inherited a unique nation that grew, principally, from British roots going back to the Magna Carta, and sprung from Europe's centuries-old soil of history, war, literature, music, religion, and language. For new arrivals to become citizens in the true sense of the word, they must be willing to learn the language and absorb these civilizational rudiments.

The brooding illegal hordes have flung down their gauntlet. The future of America depends on how we respond.


Readers are encouraged to sign a petition to Congress opposing any guest-worker amnesty program and supporting border security. To sign an online version of the petition, download a printed version, or for further information, go to To order extra copies of this magazine, see the card between pages 38-39.

R. Cort Kirkwood has been writing about American politics and culture for more than 20 years.
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Title Annotation:IMMIGRATION
Author:Kirkwood, Cort
Publication:The New American
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:May 1, 2006
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