As a dozen Latino men walked into Prince William County court in January to face charges of loitering at a 7-Eleven, Jim McDonald stood outside holding a sign that read, “ACLU and Illegals Please Go Home.”
It’s a regular role for McDonald, 59, who pickets frequently outside courthouses or anywhere else he thinks he should spread his message. He has plenty of poster board, and he’s happy to travel.
McDonald, whose placard targeted a group of Latino day laborers arrested as they waited for potential employers in Woodbridge, does not work alone. He is part of a group calling itself the Virginia Coalition Against Terrorism. An assortment of mostly local residents—some of them immigrants themselves—the coalition has dedicated itself to fighting new arrivals who have come to the United States illegally, as some in the Woodbridge roundup had.
Since the 2001 terrorist attacks, the group’s rhetoric has assumed a new edge. Illegal immigration, the coalition preaches, feeds terrorism.
As an example of the local coalition’s reach and its connections to other organizations, immigration advocates point to the bill sponsored by Del. David B. Albo (R-Fairfax) that excludes all but legal immigrants from most state and local public services.
Albo said that when he got help from Shoemaker and others to draw up the bill, he did not know them as members of the Virginia coalition but as members of national groups, the American Council for Immigration Reform and the Federation for American Immigration Reform. He said Shoemaker helped him get a team of people to write the bill, which easily passed.
“I didn’t use them so much as advocates but as a resource when writing the bill,” he said.
Former attorney general Jerry W. Kilgore, a Republican who is running for governor, has voiced his support for the bill.