(CNSNews.com) - A liberal Hispanic lobbying group is labeling some opponents of illegal immigration "racists, cowards" and "domestic terrorists" on a new website. But the activists targeted by the accusations say they have no time for "name-calling" and will continue their work.
The League of United Latin America Citizens (LULAC) -- which bills itself as "the largest and oldest Hispanic civil rights organization in the United States and Puerto Rico" -- sponsors the website WeAreRacists.com.
Under the banner, "Stop the Minutemen*!," the site's home page features photos of some members of the "Herndon Minutemen," a group opposed to illegal immigration trying to discourage the unlawful hiring of illegal alien "day laborers" in their city. The Herndon group is a chapter of the nationwide "Minuteman Project" that began patrolling the U.S. borders in 2005 in an attempt to slow illegal immigration.
The asterisk following the phrase "Stop the Minutemen*!" on the LULAC-sponsored website refers the reader to the bottom of the page, where a dictionary-style "definition" of the word "minutemen" is provided.
"*MIN.UTE.MEN n. def: racists, cowards, un-Americans (sic), vigilantes, domestic terrorists," the LULAC-sponsored website charges.
The website's original domain name, using a singular reference, was WeAreRacist.com. It was registered on Dec. 13, 2005. The plural version -- WeAreRacists.com -- was registered the next day. The website accuses the Minutemen of being "an anti-immigrant group" and claims that its members are "often affiliated with white supremacy groups."
The Herndon chapter of the Minutemen raised LULAC's ire in the weeks before a taxpayer-funded gathering site for day laborers opened in the Virginia town. The Minutemen -- along with another group, HelpSaveHerndon.org -- called public attention to the fact that the Herndon Town Council was planning to use taxpayer dollars to fund the operation of a "day laborer" center on public property. The two groups oppose spending tax dollars on a facility that they believe will aid illegal aliens in finding work.
When the center opened Dec. 14, 2005, Minutemen volunteers gathered on the public sidewalks adjacent to the site and photographed the contractors who hired day laborers. They also noted the contractors' vehicle license plate numbers and the number of workers they employed.
Law enforcement officials have confirmed that the men who gather at such day laborer sites looking for work are often illegal aliens. The information gathered by the Minutemen can be used to file complaints against unlicensed contractors and to prosecute those who do not pay taxes or maintain worker compensation insurance for the laborers they hire.
A similar program implemented by police in the East Hampton area of Long Island, N.Y., shut down an informal day laborer gathering site in less than a week.
George Taplin, president of the Herndon Minutemen, told Cybercast News Service that, contrary to many published and broadcast reports, his group makes no attempt to determine which workers are and which are not legally present in the country; a task he calls "impossible.
"We're not going to report someone because we suspect they are illegal," Taplin said. "Our focus is to dry up the jobs."
But the WeAreRacists.com website accuses Taplin and his colleagues of racism, opposition to civil rights and more.
"Those who oppose immigrants' rights often blame immigration and immigrants for an array of social problems, from unemployment to the poor quality of public schools to urban sprawl and congestion," the website charges. "While such problems are all too real, blaming immigrants for causing them is a scapegoat that is ultimately rooted in racism as it serves to divide people who might otherwise make common cause.
"If you know anyone pictured on this website, please be advised that they are participating in the anti-immigrant movement," the LULAC-sponsored website concludes.
Nothing could be farther from the truth, according to Taplin, who characterized LULAC's website attack as "meaningless.
"We're trying to promote a dialogue. We're trying to get people to pay attention to the facts of what's going on with illegal immigration," Taplin said. "[LULAC] has nothing to counter the facts; they have nothing to counter what we say. All they have is name-calling."
In its literature and in public comments by its officials, LULAC often makes no distinction between lawful immigrants to the U.S. and non-citizens who have entered the country in criminal violation of Title 8 Section 1325 of the U.S. Code. It usually refers to the latter group simply as "immigrants" or sometimes "undocumented immigrants," but never as "illegal aliens."
Taplin argued, however, that there is an enormous difference between the millions of lawful immigrants who have played by the rules to enter the country and illegal aliens.
"By having them come here illegally, it starts a chain of events where laws are broken, not only by the illegal aliens themselves, but also by virtually everybody they come into contact with," Taplin explained. He noted that even knowing an illegal alien is present in the United States without reporting that fact to authorities is a crime.
"Do they enforce that? No. That's what were calling for is enforcement," Taplin continued. "If we got the government to enforce the laws, we wouldn't need a fence on the border."
In a Jan. 3, 2006, statement posted on the LULAC website, the group called the congressionally proposed fence along the U.S. border with Mexico, referenced by Taplin, a "wall of hate.
"As I write this, an increasing number of our elected officials persist in distorting the truth about the plight of Mexico and the millions of immigrants coming to this nation from the south," wrote Hector M. Flores, national president of LULAC. "This ignorance and distorted truth is leading some elected officials to support building walls along the U.S. border with Mexico reminiscent of the Berlin era and spending millions more for border enforcement in an effort to stem the tide of immigration from Mexico to the United States."
Flores resorts to the same theme used on the WeAreRacists.com website, accusing illegal immigration opponents of being "anti-immigrant" and "racist.
"I continue to hear immigrant bashing of the worst kind," Flores charged. "Editorials spew out ugly stereotypes, letters to the editor offer thinly disguised racial diatribes, and talk show hosts continue to malign the integrity and work ethic of Latino immigrants on a daily basis."
Taplin disputed the claim that his group's opposition to illegal immigration has anything to do with race.
"The people who understand what we're doing know that we're not racists. They know that what we're trying to do is to help to resolve this issue," Taplin said. "I really believe that the mainstream Latino is opposed to that type of rhetoric as well."
He also challenged LULAC regarding the money the group has spent to create and launch the WeAreRacists.com website.
"If they're so interested in the welfare of these workers out here in Herndon, why don't they give them a better place to live instead of focusing their efforts on me and spending money to put a website up?" Taplin asked. "Why are they spending their resources to spread hate? Because that's what they're doing."
Calls to LULAC's Washington, D.C., offices seeking comment for this article were not returned.
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