One of the largest and arguably most dangerous hate groups in the nation has been strengthening its once flailing ranks, using immigration as a main recruitment tool.
“It is one of our major, if not the major issue for recruitment. We find that it's an issue you can raise with your co-workers, your fellow students and your fellow churchgoers. It applies to almost anyone,” said Sean McBride, national recruitment coordinator for the Michigan-based National Socialist Movement, reportedly the nation's largest neo-Nazi group.
Most members of the movement against illegal immigration are concerned with the continued flow of undocumented immigrants, and the effect on the economy, culture and national security.
It's an issue that sparked Oklahoma to pass House Bill 1804, largely considered the toughest and most comprehensive immigration enforcement statute in the nation.
Reform proponents argue that associating the mainstream movement with the small fringe is a transparent tactic to discredit their concerns and end the debate.
“The fringe elements on either side really are counterproductive to meaningful immigration reform,” said Bob Dane, communications director for the Federation of American Immigration Reform. “They are not going to co-opt this immigration reform movement because they don't represent American interest. They are not part of our culture and our heritage.”
FAIR has tried to distance itself from the fringe, decrying bias and re-affirming talking points that target policy as opposed to people. FAIR is one of the most sourced think tanks on immigration issues, and helped pen HB 1804.
“We are no more against immigrants than a person on a diet is antifood,” Dane said “We are a mainstream group promoting mainstream values. We have no regard for groups that are based on bias, hate or discrimination.
“Any type of hate crime is unacceptable. Hate groups must be condemned.”
Growth of hate
In 2007, the Southern Poverty Law Center, a civil rights advocacy group, counted 888 hate groups in its latest tally, up from 844 in 2006 and 602 in 2000.
That growth, according to McBride, has been well pronounced in the heartland.