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The Minutemen hit the Big Apple

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  • Steven L. Robinson
    Fight for the Future Anti-illegal immigrant activists in America s oldest immigrant entry point By Bret Liebendorfer New York Press In recent days, massive
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 5, 2006
      Fight for the Future

      Anti-illegal immigrant activists in America's oldest immigrant entry point

      By Bret Liebendorfer

      New York Press

      In recent days, massive rallies, like A Day Without an Immigrant, drew tens
      of thousands of flag-waving participants in New York and captured most of
      the city's attention regarding the immigrant debate. Most New Yorkers tend
      to think of anti-illegal immigrant groups as Wild West-style vigilantes
      patrolling the Southwest border looking for brown-skin invaders. But it has
      now become clear that these groups are hardly limited to just the border, as
      the anti-illegal immigrant movement is now targeting New York and working
      persistently on what they describe as efforts to secure America. With
      overlapping memberships, it's difficult to differentiate one group from
      another, but what their opponents fear most is that some of these incestuous
      relationships may be marginally linked to America's white separatist groups.
      Nevertheless, this negative suspicion has done little to dampen the
      anti-illegal immigrant movement.

      "We, as concerned New Yorkers, got brave enough to voice our anti-illegal
      immigrant position and are taking it to the streets," said Joanna Mazullo,
      president of New York Immigration Control and Enforcement (I.C.E.) on why
      the group formed. NY I.C.E. mirrors many of the ideals of anti-illegal
      immigrant groups around the country: They are against the granting of
      amnesty and driver's licenses to current illegal immigrants and believe the
      solution to solving the illegal immigrant problem is enforcement of existing

      Despite being a newcomer to the scene, NY I.C.E. had a busy month in June.
      Three rallies were held separately at the Mexican Consulate, Revolution
      Books and the offices of Senators Hillary Clinton and Charles Schumer. "We
      wanted to make our group known," Marzullo said. "We're planning other
      actions where people can be less afraid to come out."

      While anti-illegal immigrant groups are generally united in their beliefs,
      there are variations in regards to tactics. The 9/11 Families for America,
      for example, chose to pursue legislative options. "We go to Washington,
      states and cities and try to speak with people in policy positions to put
      legislature into action to make our country more secure," said Bruce DeCell,
      a board member for 9/11 Families for America. "We had people failed by the
      federal government, and we're trying to not let that happen again."

      For others, direct action is the only form of action. The New York Minutemen
      have shut down day labor centers frequented by illegal immigrants in Long
      Island and have even patrolled the United States/Canada border.

      Other anti-illegal immigration groups like NY I.C.E. specialize in protests
      or rallies in hopes of getting media attention. A recent rally targeted
      Revolution Books, a radical bookstore that is located near Union Square and
      is home to the Revolutionary Communist Party, because, according to a NY
      I.C.E. press release, they wanted to "expose the supporters of illegal
      immigrants, bringing them 'out of the shadows.'" It was here that members of
      the rally admitted to being part of other groups such as the Minutemen when
      confronted by their opponents. As it turned out, Marzullo said
      outsiders-some she had never seen before-participated as well.

      Overlapping memberships and widespread support from other anti-illegal
      immigrant groups makes it difficult to know where one group ends and another
      begins. "We'll be involved with anyone furthering the causes. There are many
      aspects, and there are many groups trying to do something about it," said
      DeCell. "As for the people on the borders, we support them. I have been to
      the border, but we figure legislature, if we put pressure on our leaders, is
      the best process."

      Countless reports have shown the interconnectedness of the anti-illegal
      movement to other causes, most of which the movement does not dispute. One
      association leaders in the anti-illegal immigrant movement are adamantly
      against, however, is the notion that racism plays a role in their efforts.
      Ron Lewenberg, who is well known for his conservative college activism at
      Columbia University and helped found NY I.C.E., said it's unfair for both
      sides to play the extremist card.

      "We officially denounce racism," Marzullo said. "Since [pro-illegal
      immigrant supporters] can't handle the facts, they resort to name calling."

      "If someone says I'm discriminating against an immigrant, that's a terrible
      thing, and that's something I would never do," DeCell said. When asked about
      racist elements, Marzullo said she is a granddaughter of legal Hispanic
      immigrants, and she's unaware of any members with racist beliefs.

      Supporters of illegal immigrant groups said tokenism is used to disguise
      racist tendencies. "The primary tactics these groups use to hide their
      bigotry is to use black Americans and Hispanics to join their groups," said
      Mark Potok, director for Intelligence Report, a publication of the Southern
      Poverty Legal Center. Jenkins voiced similar concerns and said tokenism is a
      new strategy. "[Anti-illegal immigrant groups] have started getting blacks
      and Hispanics into anti-immigrant groups. Then they put them in the front to
      make it look like they're not racist."

      Potok claims that the SPLC has seen a 33 percent rise in hate groups from
      2000 to 2005 with 41 new groups forming since the Minutemen formed last
      year. "No matter what anti-immigration supporters might say, we're talking
      about people with brown skin," Potok said. "There's no question the
      immigration issue is helping hate groups grow."

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