Harald Martins Army

The anti-immigration activist has a new plan to send Mexicans packing

But the era of good feeling ended and Martin's metamorphosis began during a lunchtime meeting with two Hispanic activists. The meeting was called to discuss how to finish the job of cleaning up Jeffrey-Lynne. After 45 minutes of lunchtime talk, he recalls, nothing had been accomplished. "One looked at the other, the other looked at me," Martin said. "The meeting was over—and I left."

Martin suggests that his truncated lunch was a cataclysmic moment in his relationship with the Latino community. He boasts that he followed it by single-handedly bringing the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) into the Anaheim city jail. (In December 1997, President Bill Clinton signed a new law taking Martin's Anaheim-INS jail program nationwide, bringing it to 100 other city and county jails around the country.) Martin's biggest crowd-pleaser was his claim that groups like LULAC have no interest in fighting "illegals" because they want to "set up a string of Little Tijuanas and South Americas all up and down California."

"We aren't blinded by political-correctness blinders in this group," Martin tells his rapt audience, sparking yet another obligatory eruption of hand-clapping. The Latino activists in the audience are an island of bored silence.

Martin saved his best material for last, urging CCIR to help him launch a movement in Orange County that will "allow police officers to arrest illegals simply for being illegal." Martin made no effort to explain how officers would distinguish "illegals" from legal immigrants. But if he gets his way, anybody who looks Mexican could face a future of constant harassment by cops demanding proof of citizenship. Martin sees the plan in grand scope, beginning with door-to-door signature-gathering and city council resolutions—one city at a time, until every cop in the county is part of Martin's army.

Like Polk, Martin continuously denies he's a racist as he outlines what amounts to a straightforward campaign of ethnic cleansing by law-enforcement officers. Early in his speech, for example, he cites government statistics he says prove there are already 7 million to 8 million illegal immigrants in the country from all over the world—"Canada, Germany, wherever," he adds. But by the end of his speech, the Europeans disappear and the "7 [million] or 8 million" illegal immigrants are all Mexican. Martin is back on his favorite topic:evil Mexico, Mexican corruption, and the all-important need to close the border. He promises that if his idea of using cops to perform INS duties takes off in Orange County, it can go nationwide—just like his INS jail program. "Ultimately, we can send 7 [million] to 8 million illegal aliens back to Mexico," he estimates, forgetting his own math.

Martin takes questions, but the meeting quickly breaks up when most of the hands raised are on the LULAC side of the room. Outside in the parking lot, I approach Art Jacques, a CCIR member decked out in a black cowboy hat, black bandana, black shirt and black slacks. He's wearing mirrored sunglasses and has a pencil-thin moustache, Vicente Fernandez-style. From what I can tell, he's CCIR's only Mexican-American member. I ask him why he joined. "You either love America or get the hell out," he exclaims, watching the LULAC members exit the Garden Grove Women's Civic Club.

As I walk to my car, a frantic-looking woman follows me, trying to get me to interview her about why she joined CCIR. She tells me she doesn't like "the illegals" because they bring roosters into her community. Whenever she gets the chance, she says, she tries to talk to "the illegals" about why they hate America and love Mexico so much. She tells me her favorite question to them is, "Where would you be without the USA?"

In case I don't understand, she offers another example. "I also go up to black people and ask them, 'Hey, where would you be without slavery?" she explains.

"I mean, think about it!"

« Previous Page