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Photo by Jack GouldYou might have thought that California's ongoing power crisis was the fault of deregulation and money-hungry power companies. Not so, according to about 20 protesters who waved anti-immigration signs during a visit to Santa Ana by Mexican President Vincente Fox and California Governor Gray Davis. "Save Electricity—Deport Illegal Aliens," demanded one sign.
Most protesters were members of the Huntington Beach-based California Coalition for Immigration Reform (CCIR), whose founder, Barbara Coe, co-authored Proposition 187, the 1994 anti-immigration law that was never implemented. With them were several members of the LA-based American Patrol, a vigilante group that tries to intercept undocumented immigrants coming across the border, and former residents of Punta Banda, a Rosarita Beach-area retirement community whose U.S. residents were evicted by the Mexican government last year.
It was Fox's presence that brought out the demonstrators—some of whom held signs calling for U.S. troops to be stationed along the border—but most seemed more pissed-off at Davis.
"He's a traitor!" said American Patrol's Glenn Spencer. "He sold America out when he killed Prop. 187."
Actually, the courts had already pretty much eviscerated the measure, which would have denied education and social-service benefits to undocumented residents, before Davis negotiated the final nail in the coffin in 1999. But the way Spencer sees it, undocumented residents would have left California if Prop. 187 survived, so he laid blame for our energy woes on the steps of the governor's mansion.
"If we didn't have illegal aliens, we wouldn't have an energy crisis," Spencer said. "There are 3 million to 4 million illegal aliens in California according to the U.S. Census. They're here because Gray Davis invited them to come!"
American Patrol has been predicting an energy crisis—and worse—for years, Spencer claimed.
"It's gonna be a train wreck," he said. "We are going to have some serious unrest in this country. It has happened before, and it will happen again—a civil war. When it blows, it's gonna blow big time."
By the time he finished his diatribe, the tiny contingent of anti-immigration protesters was completely surrounded by recent immigrants holding signs demanding California driver's licenses. Spencer immediately began shouting at them, prompting two uniformed Santa Ana police officers to approach him with video cameras rolling. The police action invigorated the otherwise quiet immigrants, who began cheering "Viva Mexico, cabrones!" ("Long live Mexico, assholes!") and "Go back to Germany!"
A Latino in a green cowboy outfit began prancing back and forth in front of the line of white protesters. Two men wearing Halloween-style Vincente Fox masks also approached the line, waving and bowing to the crowd. By the time Fox appeared—more than an hour late —the anti-immigration protesters were long gone. "No reason to stick around here," one particularly disgruntled CCIR protester remarked as his group marched away.
Perhaps they were off to fire up their camcorders. American Patrol's website (www.americanpatrol.com) was offering $1,000 for the best video of people entering the U.S. illegally. Why? To prove to Americans that Mexico is intent on ushering in an era of multicultural anarchy and has declared war on the United States, according to the website.
The site is run by Voices of Citizens Together (VCT), a Sherman Oaks-based "patriot" group. When not getting pummeled by Chicano radicals at various protests, VCT members travel around the country rallying support for its fight against the "invading Mexican menace." The group's home page is a huge scroll-down sheet of daily links to various newspaper articles that mention immigration, multiculturalism and other related subjects. But VCT's website also provides a free editing service: in headlines and story excerpts, any terms the group deems incorrect are crossed out and replaced with wording it approves. For instance, "undocumented worker" is changed to "illegal alien," "Al Gore" becomes "Aztlan whore," and "Latino leader" is rewritten as "rabid reconquista."
Coe insisted that her CCIR has no problem with legal immigration. They oppose Fox, she explained, because the Mexican president advocates opening the U.S.-Mexico border. "Our message to Fox, who calls illegal immigrants 'heroes,' is to go home and take his illegal-alien 'heroes' with him," Coe railed at the rally.
Ironically, the anti-immigrant protesters seemed tame in their opposition to Fox compared with the mask-wearing Zapatista supporters who also showed up. Two Latino high-school students who described themselves as Zapatista supporters said they think Fox should "go back to Mexico and fix something." Asked how they really felt about Fox, one student held up a sign that read, "Boo this man" on one side and, "Fox—chinga tu madre!" ("Fox—fuck your mother!") on the other.
Who knew Coe would find fresh recruits here?