A coalition of immigration reform opponents called Ban Amnesty Now has announced a number of anti-immigrant events for tomorrow, May 21, at Senators’ offices and state capitols around the country. They haven’t announced that 20,000 people nationwide will be participating, perhaps because that would be hard to believe considering the support their social media numbers are putting up (534 on Facebook, 42 on Twitter, 59 on Meetup).
Ban Amnesty Now is a group led by former Arizona state legislator Russell Pearce, who was deposed in 2011 after being recalled from office primarily due to his sponsorship of SB 1070, Arizona’s punitively anti-immigrant state law. Pearce is teaming up again with longtime ally Rusty Childress, who runs a “Remember 1986!” anti-immigrant coalition.
Pearce and Childress worked together back in 2004, and now they’re trying to shoot the same movie all over again—but they’ll find that the scenery around them has completely changed. A bipartisan Gang of 8 immigration bill is working its way through the Senate Judiciary Committee, where legislators are crossing the aisle to support each other’s amendments. A bipartisan House Group of 8 has just announced that they’ve come to an agreement in principle on immigration reform in that chamber. Public polling consistently finds supermajorities of Americans in support of immigration reform with a pathway to citizenship. And Russell Pearce is a has-been trying to stand in the way of history.
If it were up to Pearce and Childress, the entire nation would look like Arizona, where immigrants live under a climate of fear, where Sheriff Joe Arpaio runs tent-city prisons where immigrants are routinely left to die, and immigration “policy” consists of forcing children and families to self-deport. As the Sonoran News reported about the Ban Amnesty campaign and their leaders’ philosophy:
As far as amnesty goes for anyone illegally present, Childress believes they should be given a specified period of time to return to their native country without being prosecuted. That would be the only kind of amnesty Childress believes lawbreakers should be given.
Never mind anything about earned citizenship, or what should be done with DREAMers who have only known this country as home, or what would happen to the US if 11 million immigrants were forced to leave. Pearce and Childress just want them all to leave.
That’s what they’ll be pushing tomorrow in their Ban Amnesty / Remember 1986 events, which are also being supported by the hate group FAIR.
We just hope that whoever will be protesting with them knows what they’re getting into.
Russell Pearce, in addition to being the sponsor of Arizona’s SB 1070, was recalled in part because his obsession with immigration kept him from doing anything else for Arizona, including helping it get out of its 2010 budget crisis. He’s had a long and colorful history of associating with and endorsing neo-Nazis, including ordaining one as an elder into the Mormon church in which they both belonged. He’s campaigned to amend the Constitution so as to end birthright citizenship. And he’s a corrupt legislator—in 2011, an ethics investigation was launched into Pearce’s role in the Fiesta Bowl scandal, where he led state legislators to subsidize the Fiesta Bowl using hundreds of thousands of dollars in taxpayer money. He was then found to have received free tickets and travel options at Fiesta Bowl’s expense.
And Childress? It’s a similar story. Childress founded a group called United for Sovereign America, and used to preside over weekly anti-immigrant summits at his Kia dealership. Past speakers included Glenn Spencer, founder of the hate group American Border Patrol; John Watson of White Knights of America; neo-Nazi J.T. Ready, who equates Mexican immigrants to “fleas fleeing a dead dog which they sucked dry”; and Pearce himself.
Speaking of auto dealerships, that “contribute” page found on Remember 1986’s website? Leads to a PayPal account for “Childress AutoMall,” which appears to be the used car business that Childress inherited.
Childress also has a thing for biker gangs: in 2006, he founded the anti-immigrant American Freedom Riders. But he was booted from his own group later that year when his own members raised questions about the immigration status of the Latinos who washed cars and performed janitorial duties on Childress’ dealership lot. Childress claimed that the workers were employed through a subcontractor and were thus not his responsibility, but the bikers still threw him out. He went on to form a knockoff biker gang, Riders USA.