God Loves Losers
A mean-looking man with a beer gut, a ZZ Top beard, and a foot-long buck knife strapped to his belt glared out the window of the Garden Grove Women's Civic Center, keeping an eye out for infiltrators. Ron Prince, featured speaker at the Nov. 28 meeting of the California Coalition for Immigration Reform (CCIR), had just arrived—45 minutes late.
To those who've never seen him, Prince is a surprise. It turns out the co-author of Proposition 187, California's controversial 1994 anti-immigrant initiative, is a sallow-faced pixie of a man—assuming pixies are as fey as Rip Taylor. He took the stage to thunderous applause from CCIR's almost all-white audience. They were eager to hear him describe a new anti-immigration bill for California—one that, unlike Prop. 187, which won on Election Day but was never implemented, would be court-proof. Before he unveiled his proposal, Prince ordered the only two reporters in the room to leave.
But the media purge came too late. For the previous hour, CCIR's Harald Martin had enthusiastically outlined the group's dark ambitions, rambling on about the background of this new plan, how Sept. 11 is going to help CCIR turn Anaheim—and ultimately America—against a threat far worse than Osama bin Laden and the Taliban: "illegal Mexican aliens."
Martin started his pitch with the observation that the anti-immigration movement hasn't won many battles—"It's a good thing God loves losers," he joked self-deprecatingly as he took the dais. He typically starts his anti-Mexico speeches with a bit of humor and a disclaimer: while he is an Anaheim police officer and an Anaheim Union High School District board member, his opinions on immigration are purely his own. But on this night, Martin ditched the disclaimer and plunged straight into his plan to turn every cop in the U.S. into an agent of the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Department Service (INS).
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According to Martin, Section 133 of the federal immigration code has allowed local police to deport illegal immigrants since 1996, but Janet Reno had never signed the "administrative regulations that would have allowed officers to do it." Martin has tried for the past year to persuade the Anaheim City Council to enforce Section 133, but—as per his "loser" joke—to no avail.
Now, Martin told his audience, he plans to take his crusade to Capitol Hill.
"Right now, we've got one senator who is walking around [Capitol Hill], and hopefully they can find support for it after the Sept. 11 terrorist acts," Martin boasted. "I think they are going to have to realize that there are two kinds of terrorists. The first one—Osama bin Laden and those terrorists—are extremely foolish. You cannot attack America directly and expect to win because we as a country will not allow that to happen."
And the second? They're subtler. More devious. More dangerous. They're illegal immigrants.
"The fact of the matter is that when you allow millions upon millions of people to come into this country, their objective is no different than Osama bin Laden's," he railed. "Osama bin Laden wants to change our country, our culture, and who we are," and the same is true of illegal immigrants from Mexico, Martin explained. "Outside forces want to change our country and our culture to be . . . something less," he said. "Something less free, something less able to gain the objectives of a private individual."
Martin then implied that his own boss, Anaheim Police Chief Roger Baker, is a traitor. Baker's crime? He supported a recent decision by the cities of Anaheim and Santa Ana to allow police officers to accept Mexican consulate identification cards from Santa Ana residents during routine field stops.
"Now, it's one thing for them to have done this on Sept. 1," Martin declared. "But to do it after Sept. 11 is a slap in the face and a spit in the eye to every citizen and legal resident here."
When the applause subsided, Martin said he was "really angry" about Baker's decision. "But I stood around and thought, 'How can I make some lemonade out of this stuff?'" he recalled. "I thought, 'What better way to identify an illegal alien by name and address than a Mexican consulate ID card?' So from now on, when an illegal alien provides me—or, hopefully, any police officer—with that Mexican consulate ID card, I think our objective is to take down what's called a field interview card and forward it to the INS and say, 'This one's an illegal alien. Go get him!'"
More applause. Cries of "yoo-hoo!"
Despite his rage, Martin predicted that the Sept. 11 attacks would ultimately help CCIR enlist more Americans against what he calls "the illegal Mexican invasion."
"What we have to do now is just kind of get them off the couch," he said. Martin then suggested that CCIR members approach total strangers and use immigration as an "icebreaker" to start conversations—and ultimately gain new members.
Rising membership, Martin hopes, would help CCIR achieve something like ethnic cleansing. "Diversity is a killer," Martin instructed his listeners. "I mean, even the Afghans are killing one another. Where there's diversity, they kill one another."
According to Martin, diversity will turn Southern California into "Beirut in 10 years." After making that prediction, he stole a page from the plot of The Turner Diaries, the white-supremacist novel that envisions a race war in America. (The book was a favorite of Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh.) "We're going to have an enclave of Muslims here," Martin declared, pointing at an imaginary map, "an enclave of radical Hispanics here, an enclave of blacks here—and everyone will be fighting for what should have been voted for. But there will no longer be votes; there will be bullets."
That chilling image didn't seem to bother CCIR's membership, which cheered Martin for more. But Martin had already run out of breath, and after answering a few questions from the crowd, he yielded to Prince, who had finally materialized with two blazer-adorned aides.
Prince apologized for his subdued voice—he was sick, he said, and almost had to cancel the appearance. He promised to speak "as long as my voice holds out." Then he compared himself to George Washington crossing the Delaware to attack the Hessians in 1776. Washington was sick that day, too, Prince explained, giggling deliriously.
Biting his lip, Prince suddenly regained his senses.
"Are there any press people here tonight?" he asked.
The lone Latina in the crowd raised her hand and quickly identified herself as Minerva Canto, an Orange County Registerreporter. Prince told Canto that he didn't like the coverage he'd received in the Register and added that he wouldn't utter another word until she left the room. Shortly after she exited the building to jeers and catcalls from the crowd, I identified myself as an OC Weekly reporter. I might as well have said I worked for The Revolutionary Worker.
"Oh, my God!" one woman exclaimed with a genuine look of horror on her face.
"You're kidding!" someone else said, grinning hopefully.
As I walked out of the building, a red-faced CCIR member leaned out the door and shouted after me.
"Hey!" he yelled. "Go tell your buddy Stalin that we said, 'Howdy!'"
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