Over 300 Americans from across the U.S. gathered in Washington, D.C., April 22-25 for Immigration Reform Awareness Week ’98. Meeting under the banner of a U.S. map with the word “FULL” across it, they fanned out to the offices of congressmen and senators and presented the case for immigration reform.
One of their key arguments dealt with the wholesale invasion of the American Southwest, especially California, by Mexicans, legal and illegal. Many of these people see themselves as part of a process called “la reconquista” — the reconquest or retaking of land that once belonged to Mexico. These raiding parties, at least according to some of their leaders, will retake these lands and re-establish Spanish. Discussing a new Mexican law permitting dual citizenship. Jose Angel Pescador Osuna, Mexican Consul General in Los Angeles told an audience at the Southwestern University School of Law, February 6, 1998: “I think we are practising la Reconquista in California.”
“The Mexican government is actively supporting the invasion of the United States, while our government looks the other way,” says Glenn Spencer who heads the California-based Voice of Citizens Together. On April 24, Spencer organized an impromptu protest attended by over 60 people outside the Mexican Embassy which is just a three blocks down from the White House on Pennsylvania Avenue. At this protest, James Wainscoat, a much-decorated former special service officer and Vietnam veteran, dramatically burned a Mexican flag, as the immigration reformers cheered and chanted: “Hey, hey, ho, ho, reconquista’s got to go!”
“This is a symbolic act protected by the First Amendment,” Spencer told the cheering crowd. “Our country is being invaded by Mexico with hostile intentions. What we’re doing here is warning Americans. So, when it blows up, they can’t say we didn’t tell them, when the blood starts flowing on the border and in L.A. We’re telling about la reconquista.” Earlier at a press conference on Capitol Hill a number of speakers including minorities told of the pressures caused by the immigration invasion.
“I don’t want to have to speak a foreign language — Spanish — to work at McDonald’s,” said Terry Anderson, a black spokesman and a resident of South Central L.A. “Our kids lose half their school day because of instruction in a foreign language.” Another black spokesman, Rev. Jesse Peterson, who said he’d once been taught to hate whites, has now changed his views. “Right now, in South Central L.A. there’s warfare between blacks and Hispanics. Blacks are being pushed out by illegals, especially in the Compton area.”
A Chinese spokesman Gil Wong questioned the whole U.S. immigration policy: “Minorities are at the bottom of the economic ladder. Why bring in immigrants to compete with them?” Joyce Tarnow, a Florida environmentalist, warned that America was being swamped with people and the environment was in peril. “Our Florida Growth Management Act allows for 93-million people!” It’s a farce, she said. “Our wells suck sand because the expanding cities suck so much water from the aquafer. We’re losing the Florida Keys, our only North American reef system to toxic wastes. The damage to the Everglades imperils the Florida Panther and other endangered species. I feel betrayed by environmental groups who say immigration in not an environmental issue.”
One of the main organizers was Joe Delaiden of the Midwest Coalition for Immigration Reform. “Bill Gates is not an American,” he told the press conference. “He’s an exploiter of labour who happens to live in America. He just wants to maximize his profits by importing cheap labour and, when he lays them off, we pay. How much money does Gates need? He only has $39-billion.” Gates is a special target of immigration reformers as he and a number of other major businesses lobbied hard to gut the immigration reform measures of 1996 in their quest for cheap, imported foreign labour.
Earlier in the day, at a breakfast in the Museum of the National Guard, Congressman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) lamented America’s loss of control of its borders. “If you’re an illegal alien in this country and you haven’t committed a felony, your chances of being deportd are 1 in 100,” he said criticizing the lack of government will to deport the hordes of illegals who have entered the U.S. since 1965.
Smith, one of the most diligent immigration reformers in Congress, pointed out that the last 30 years have been an aberration — a time of unprecedented immigration. “From 1900 to 1950, immigration averaged 400,000 per year,” Smith said. “Since 1990, it has averaged over 1-million.” Paul Fromm, editor of the CANADIAN IMMIGRATION HOTLINE, attended Immigration Reform Awareness Week ’98 as an interested Canadian observer.