“You’re a race traitor, you’re a traitor to your country, we’re going to kill you, we’re going to kill your family, we’re coming down there,” Mark Lane told NBC San Diego, quoting phone calls, text messages and Facebook posts threatening him and his family.
Lane made the decision to take in a family after watching the Murrieta anti-immigrant protests last month, where nativists screamed at immigrant children and told them to go home. Lane’s 5-year-old son asked him why people were mad at the buses, and the hatred Lane saw prompted him to take action. Lane even set up a Facebook campaign to boycott Murrieta, but his effort backfired when nativists set up a Facebook boycott of their own against Lane’s shop, Poppa’s Fresh Fish Company.
The family that Lane took in include a Guatemalan mother, her two teenage sons, and her 23-year-old daughter. In Guatemala, the family said, gangs were trying to recruit the boys. “They took the girl and gang raped her as a mechanism to get them, to get the boys to join. That’s when they decided they have to leave,” said Lane. The family’s case is now winding through immigration courts.
With the backlash against Lane has also come a strong show of support, and Lane has received encouraging phone calls, orders for fish and donations from across the country.
According to NBC Latino, new customers have trickled in for more than the fish tacos:
“I just believe in supporting people like this because I find it ridiculous that people are harassing him and bugging him for doing a good deed,” said customer Elaine Allen during her first visit.
“There are so many people out there that are against what he’s doing, and facing threats against him and his family is ridiculous,” said another first-timer Rosalba Barragan. “That’s not what good human beings do. We support one another; we help one another.”
Others told NBC 7 they disagreed with Lane’s stance, though they did not use threats. The San Diego Tea Party released the following statement:
Our members are staunch constitutionalists who believe in the rule of law. When our president decides not to enforce laws that best fit his political needs he breaks the sacred oath he gave us and neglects to do right by his people. The issue with the store owner, and whether or not to boycott is a personal decision one must make. If our leaders on the left and right actually wanted to fix this problem, they would just enforce the laws on the books. At that point the store owner would not be so bold as to break our laws in the first place.
Despite the controversy, Lane said the threats against him have only strengthened his resolve to help. He is preparing to launch his own nonprofit this week, dedicated to helping undocumented families and the Americans who choose to take them in. As he said about his decision:
We were lucky enough to be born here. That doesn’t make us better than anybody. We have people fleeing violence. We need to take them in and give them shelter, and that’s what we’ve always done since we were a country.