Monday, September 11, 2006

Minutemen to target Midwest immigrants

Despite the fact of having some of the smallest percentages of foreign born residents in the nation, Midwestern states such as Missouri, Kansas, and Nebraska have lately seen an increase in anti-immigrant sentiment and the expansion of the Minutemen vigilante movement into the region. Over the summer, officials from the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps claim to have trained more than thirty new local minutemen leaders to lead chapters in places like Sioux Falls S.D., Omaha Neb. and Springfield Missouri.

Having no foreign border to guard, the purpose of these new chapters, according to leadership, is to target those people they determine to be "illegal immigrants" either at job sites or in their neighborhoods and then threaten employers and landlords to take action or face the authorities.

How do the minutemen propose to determine an immigrant's legal status? According to the group's national training coordinator, they have a simple test. They ask suspected "illegals" a couple of questions such as "what's your favorite food?" If an immigrant answers "incorrectly" they will be assumed to be undocumented, and targeted.

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With foreign born populations ranging from 2% to 5.6%, far below the 12.4 % national average, the Midwestern states have nonetheless seen an increase in immigrant populations in recent years. Apparently for some residents having 2 or 3 immigrants per 100 is still 2 or 3 too many. According to Ed Hayes, a retired police captain who now leads a Minutemen chapter in the Kansas City suburb of Overland Park KS., "Anybody that wants to can go to the border. I just feel there’s enough to do right here. If you go to the stores on Saturdays, they’re full of people who are legal immigrants, I’m sure. But many of them don’t speak our language, and you can be assured that they’re illegal."

The group’s national training coordinator, Greg Thompson, estimates he has trained 30 new Minutemen leaders in the past 2½ months. He said most of the chapters are popping up in areas such as Sioux Falls, S.D., and Omaha, Neb., which are only now experiencing the demographic change that occurred generations ago in traditional gateway states such as Texas and Arizona.


"The whole purpose of the Minutemen is to secure our borders, and to get that done we know we’re going to have to turn up the heat on politicians in every state," said Thompson, a retired advertising executive in Oklahoma City. "We’re also going to go out on the job and identify contractors that are hiring illegals. If he keeps it up, we’re going to turn him in to the authorities."

…determining the legal status of workers on a given job site is no easy matter. Thompson said he trained leaders to ask workers a series of simple questions, such as what their favorite food was. If the worker couldn’t answer the questions, Thompson said volunteers should assume the worker is undocumented and report him to his employer or to law enforcement

Columbia Daily Tribune

Like many other Minutemen organizers [audio link] coming to the Midwest, Thompson insists that their efforts in the heartland have nothing to do with racism. Speaking to a standing room only crowd at an organizing meeting at The Library Center in Springfield MO in August, he opened his presentation by insisted that his group is only concerned with border security and that "Racists aren`t welcome."

Yet, given the criteria thus far set by the group to determine who should be targeted for harassment, it's hard to believe Mr. Thompson's assertion. If preferring the wrong type of food, or speaking a foreign language assures guilt in the eyes of the vigilantes, his protestations ring extremely hollow.

It would be interesting to know what Mr. Thompson instructs his leader trainees the correct answer to the question, "What's your favorite food?" is. Is it only white bread and mayonnaise or does he allow tacos?


Alma Mia said...

I think the reply they're expecting is "yo quiero Taco Bell"

Duke1676 said...

But not according to a recent article in Ad Age.

Apparently Taco Bell has been seeing ever decreasing sales in the Latino Market and they're starting to get worried. In 2005 Latinos made up only a half-percent of the the company's 7% same-store sales increase.

Realizing that their Americanized version of Mexican food is so far removed from the real thing, they're going to try to make their menu a little more "authentic" to appeal to the growing Latino market by adding things like carnitas... (Which I'm sure will be just as "authentic" as the rest of their offerings)

so if you ask me... answering "Taco Bell" .... would probably prove you're a certifiable Gringo ...In fact minutemen in the Midwest probably eat far more Taco Bell than any undocumented immigrants....and when they do they most likely douse it with buckets of "minuteman salsa"

Alma Mia said...

That is my point exactly...

Considering how little the Minutemen understand about the immigration issue, much less immigrants themselves... previous comment was pure, unadulterated sarcasm.