Few contemporary political issues are as divisive as the nation?s debate over immigration. Legislative desks across the county are littered with discarded, proposed and considered immigration reform bills. In 2006 an estimated 2 million immigrant rights supporters turned out to march in the May Day demonstrations (8,000-10,000 in Omaha) and anti-immigration demonstrators consistently harass traffic on Sunday afternoons at 72nd and Dodge streets.
Now, atavistic neo-Nazi white supremacist groups in steel-toed boots, khakis and swastika- emblazoned arm bands, are using the lightning rod issue to attract support to their campaign for ?white interests.?
A nation of immigrants
?We just got one on our front door. It was pretty anti-immigration, not Nazi propaganda but my friend who is from South Omaha got a Nazi flyer,? said Sam Martin.
Sam is one of a number of Omaha residents who were recently inundated with flyers advertising a neo-Nazi anti-immigration rally to take place at the Mexican Consulate on Sept. 1.
Organized by the National Socialist Movement ? the disarming moniker of the official Nazi party of the United States ? the rally will also include local members of supremacist group White Revolution and is also certain to attract the Minuteman, who held their own anti-immigration rally at the consulate Aug. 17.
?The United States was founded exclusively by whites, and the founding fathers specifically say they were founding this place for the security and happiness of the themselves and their descendants ? not that of Mexico,? said Billy Roper, Chairman of the White Revolution, a national organization that has been ?leading America to a whiter future since 2002.?
Jeff Scoop, Commander for the National Socialist Movement (NSM), shared a similar sentiment, ?When our forefathers came over here from Europe they were not saying, ?Ok, everyone else has to learn our language.? They said they had to assimilate. Now there are unprecedented numbers of illegal immigrants reaping the benefits of life in the United States and instead of being prosecuted for being here illegally, they are being rewarded. They aren?t coming here to make a better life or become good Americans or assimilate, they want us speaking Spanish.?
?This country was founded by immigrants,? said Cooper Moon, housemate and fellow Midtown leafletee of Sam Martin?s. ?This country?s entire existence is based on immigrants. Why should it be any different now? The whole illegal issue? You wanna talk about our forefathers, the colonists? They were storm troopers of death coming over and obliterating the Native Americans, destroying an entire ecosystem. The Mexicans coming over, getting jobs and raising families? Not even in the same ballpark.?
Moon, Martin and their other housemates have discussed responding to the rally in some way, but to some extent fear retribution ? a scare tactic that groups like the NSM rely upon, while shielded by the First Amendment.
?I really don?t want a bunch of f***ing neo-Nazis bombing my house,? Moon said. ?You don?t pay attention to them and they go away. While I am so anti all of this, part of me just wants to say don?t f***ing look at them. Don?t pay any attention to them because you are just adding fuel to their fire that makes them more dangerous and more violent.?
What is white?
The likelihood of groups like White Revolution and the NSM just ?going away? are not good. The immigration debate itself is adding more than enough fuel to their fire.
According to the Anti-Defamation League, in 2000 their hate group count included 602 organizations. In 2006, the count had risen to 844, an increase that they credit to the surge in anti-immigrant sentiment throughout the country.
The neo-Nazi groups in the last year and a half have organized hundreds of events. In Dayton, Ohio members of National Socialist Movement appeared in Nazi uniforms at a pro-immigration march to protest, in their words, ?the illegal wetback scum and Shabbat goy mud lovers.? Most recently, NSM organized a march on the capitol building in Columbia, S.C. where, according to NSM commander Scoop, ?dozens and dozens? of supporters turned out.
When they cannot organize in person, the supremacist groups plaster communities around the country with crude anti-Hispanic and anti-immigration fliers like the ones left in South Omaha.
According to the Anti-Defamation League, in Bakersfield, Calif., for example, one community was littered with National Vanguard fliers that read, ?Civilization: One Job Mexicans Won?t Do.? Residents of Pasadena, Texas, discovered racist fliers that urged people to burn down the homes of people thought to be illegal immigrants.
?We intend to send a message to the U.S. government that is if they don?t do something about this illegal immigration problem we will replace all of them,? said NSM?s Scoop. ?They are political whores to the Israelis, or special interest groups, whoever is paying them enough money to buy off their souls. Even Americans who don?t necessarily believe in our methods are coming to us. People are sick of being lied to. With us there is no lying. We are concerned about white interests and the way America used to be. If the founding fathers were with us today they would be behind us.?
The rhetoric is popular and it?s working. Recruitment numbers are up, money is rolling into the organizations and white power is getting multimedia diversified. It?s not just about rallies and cross burnings; the National Socialist Movement develops and distributes its own video games, podcasts and radio shows. They maintain a Web site, operate a record label and have recently started NewSaxon.com, a white only version of the social networking site, Myspace.
Scoop claims that NSM, the largest pro-white group in the country, has nearly 50 percent or more of their membership placed in the armed forces with others in law enforcement.
The National Socialist Movement can even boast its very own Nazi presidential candidate, John Taylor Bowles, whose first campaign promise is to provide ?all White families in the USA, (husband, wife and minor children)? with zero interest mortgage loans ?to buy homes fitted with all necessary household gadgets like fridge, TV, computers, etc.?
And of course they have their own conspiracy theories.
?The U.S. government, along with Canada and Mexico, are implementing a ?North America Union? that will eventually remove borders from the USA, Canada and Mexico,? wrote Steve Lee, head of the Omaha chapter of the White Revolution in an e-mail. ?Again, mostly for the benefit of huge, greedy corporations. People in Canada know of this and are enraged. Few in the United States are aware of it other than those who rely on news sources outside of the controlled media.
?For example: Interstate I-65 will serve as a super highway, up to six lanes in each direction for transportation of goods from one portion of the continent to the other. Mexican ports used by cargo ships and unsafe, non regulated Mexican truck drivers in dilapidated trucks will transport the goods via the superhighway putting American teamsters out of work. American currency, which is already losing value quickly, will be replaced by the new ?Amero? currency that will serve as the means of satisfying debts in the North American Union, which incidentally is being modeled after the European Union. Already, whites are just 8 percent of the world?s population with white females accounting for just 2 percent of that total. Whites are denied their own schools, workplaces, political organizations and neighborhoods. This is by United Nations definition, genocide of the white race.?
The state of migration
There is no disputing that the immigrant community in Nebraska is growing. According to census date, approximately 41.2 percent of the total population increase between 2000 and 2006 in Nebraska is attributable to immigrants. Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) ? an organization that is very questionably fair or accurate ? estimates the illegal alien population in 2005 at 39,000.
A report issued from the University of Nebraska at Omaha?s Office of Latino and Latin American Studies earlier this year indicates that, between 1990 and 2000, Nebraska?s foreign-born population grew faster than that of any other Midwestern state. From 2000 to 2005, Nebraska experienced the eighth-largest proportional increase of foreign-born individuals of all U.S. states, accounting for more than 60 percent of overall population growth.
Many point to Nebraska?s abundance of jobs, a lack of labor force to fill those jobs, and a low level of competition for jobs within labor migrant populations as other major factors contributing to the growing foreign-born population in the state.
As a result, and after the most recent election cycle, it would be difficult to deny that, at least rhetorically, Nebraska is increasingly hostile to its immigrant groups. The Christmas-timed undocumented worker raids of local area meat packing plants, and proposed immigrant ID legislation are two more recent examples.
In the last year, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) have ramped up efforts in the Omaha area. According to the Detention Watch Network, an immigrant rights organization, ICE?s ?Operation Endgame? has brought about a seven-fold increase in worksite arrests between 2002 and 2006, it has tripled the number of ?Fugitive Operations Teams? and the development of other specialized operations, deporting more than 186,000 immigrants in 2006 alone. ICE has introduced such a team within the Omaha area. The team covers eastern Nebraska and western Iowa. Nationwide, the number of these fugitive teams is expected to grow to 75 by the end of the year.
?There are over 600,000 illegal immigrants who are fugitives in this country,? said Tim Counts, an ICE spokesman. ?We are going to find them, arrest them and deport them.?
But there are serious flaws in this system. Many come into the United States legally ? often with six-month tourist visas ? with the hope of finding work and then petitioning to become permanent residents and, ultimately, citizens. But, with the exception of the children who are born here ? and who are thus automatically U.S. citizens ? most immigrants see their visas expire. If employers attempt to sponsor them, the citizenship process still takes a minimum of five to seven years. Green cards through family or individual petitions are also at least a five- to seven-year wait. And the longer an immigrant continues to file the proper paperwork and go through the legal channels they are at great risk because immigration officials may be alerted to their illegal status and they may face deportation. There are even stories of immigrants visiting the Consulate to file paperwork who are then pulled out of line by ICE officials, detained and later deported.
According to Jose Cuevas, the director of Omaha?s Mexican Consulate, in a previous interview with the City Weekly, to get through the system legally and legitimately, if someone began petitioning the government today, it would take an average of 20 years to become a legal resident.
?The reason why we protest against Mexican consulates is that the primary service that it provides are ?matricular? consular cards,? said Roper, the White Revolution national rep. ?They are identification provided for Mexicans in the Untied States to get bank accounts, etc., but they are only useful to immigrants here illegally. Those who are here legally already have the necessary paperwork. So the only people who benefit from the cards and the existence of the consulate are people who are here illegally.?
?Some people may argue that the people organizing and attending this rally are extreme,? said Lee, the Omaha leader of the White Revolution. ?But given the projections given by the U.S. Census Bureau, that says non-Hispanic whites will be a minority in this Country by 2050. I think this calls for extreme measures if we are to remain a first world nation and secure the existence of our people and future for white children. I, nor any other average American wishes to see our Nation transformed into an extension of Mexico.
?Already we are a minority race in over 50 of America?s largest cities. By the time our children reach adulthood, we will have more Hispanics in the USA than in Mexico itself. What kind of future will that be for our children and grandchildren??
Hate as a four-letter word
?Stupid people make Third World countries,? said White Revolution?s Roper. ?Third World countries don?t make stupid people. The more the United States allows these people in, the more we become like a Third World country. That is not something we want to hand down to our children. We don?t want the United States to become a Third World cesspool.?
Some pretty negative sentiments. But the swastika-wearing interviewees insist that their anti-immigrant stance isn?t about hate.
?I myself, nor anyone I know, ?hate? anyone,? said Lee. ?This isn?t about ?hate? for me, it is about love of my country and my people. It is about securing a future for our children and our grandchildren.
?It?s about preserving our heritage, our culture and history. This isn?t immigration, as our grandparents knew it ? no, this is an invasion. An invasion like the world has never before seen in all of recorded history.?
?Most Nebraskans and Americans want common sense immigration reform that treats people with dignity and provides a path to citizenship for people who are paying their taxes,? said Darcy Tromanhauser, Program Director for Nebraska Appleseed, an organization that promotes the integration and participation of immigrant communities. ?I think there is a small but vocal minority who doesn?t want to see any immigration at all. They drive from views that are racist and what most people don?t believe. I think this rally and its sponsors betray the roots of some of the more vehement anti-immigrant voices. Many of those who first take an interest in these groups out of a concern over immigration quickly leave when they discover the ugly core of the perspective. Most Nebraskans don?t think this way and believe that if someone is working hard and paying taxes, they should have a path to citizenship and full participation in society, no matter the color of their skin.?
?We understand that they are entitled to say whatever they want. As long as they don?t do any damage to the building, that?s fine,? said Jose Cuevas, head of Omaha?s Mexican Consulate. ?I believe that they are mistaken as to what we do. But the First Amendment gives them all the right in the world to demonstrate and say whatever they like.?
?We were talking about doing something ? water balloons or something,? said Sam Martin of he and his housemates plotting to counter the white supremacy rally. ?Part of me wants to do something to protest against that, but another part of me doesn?t even want to legitimize it. I?m pretty sure we are going to put up a sign out our house on the day of the rally that says, ?We Hate Nazi?s? with a smiley face.?
Bring on the smiley faces. For their part, the white supremacists are having a post-hate rally party complete with ?live bands, swastika lightning and food.? Sieg Heil!
The Anti-Defamation League and the National Socialist Movement
The Anti-Defamation League lists 17 different groups on their Web site, including several anti-Semitic groups as well as the Black Panthers.
According to the ADL, the National Socialist Movement is the largest neo-Nazi group in the country. It also notes that they are one of the only neo-Nazi groups to openly display swastikas and wear original Nazi attire.
Another thing that makes the NSM more unique ? and more dangerous, according to the ADL ? is its open worship of Adolf Hitler. The NSM still refers to Hitler as ?our Fuhrer? on its Web site.
Lincoln rally in 2004
Often, keeping these types of rallies peaceful is an expensive thing.
The City of Lincoln spent nearly $25,000 to police a National Socialist Movement rally that took place on the Nebraska Capitol steps in July of 2004. At the time, KETV estimated that ?dozens of Neo-Nazi supporters turned out? but there were 225 law enforcement officials on hand.
For that rally, the NSM was granted a permit that allowed them to protest for two hours. Lincoln police and the Nebraska State Patrol set up barricades and had officers stationed on rooftops as the rally quickly became a shouting match between NSM supporters and counter-protesters.
Many of the counter-protesters attempted to follow the NSM after the protest but police were able to get everybody moving in opposite directions and no violence was reported.