Unlikely Allies Hold Forum On Illegal Immigration

Christina M. Woods, Wichita Eagle, March 9, 2007

The United States wouldn’t have as large of an illegal immigration problem if Mexicans could earn a decent living in Mexico, said Dennis Romero, co-chairman of the People’s Alliance for Latino Advancement.

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The alliance held the forum with the Kansas Minuteman Civil Defense Corp., a group that promotes reporting illegal immigrants to federal authorities.

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Alex Molina, who was one of a handful of Hispanics who attended, said the meeting was full of racism.

“The United States is a land of immigrants,” Molina said in Spanish. “That is its strength.”

But Joe White, who also was at the forum, said that people’s lack of assimilating is among his many concerns about illegal immigration.

“They don’t want to assimilate, and that’s not right,” he said. “It’s changing us.”

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Allen Oakleaf, who oversees the Wichita Minuteman chapter, opened the meeting with a short video on immigration’s impact on the country’s population.

By 2050, the video said, legal immigration will boost the U.S. population to near 500 million. The video did not talk about illegal immigration.

Ed Hayes, founder of the Kansas Minuteman chapter, said the Constitution guarantees that states are protected from invasion.

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Bob Hernandez, co-founder of the Latino alliance, focused his presentation on illegal immigration’s impact on the country and how American-born Mexicans have failed to appropriately respond.

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Hernandez said people must hold the Mexican government accountable to end corruption and poverty—two driving forces, he said, of illegal immigration.

He asked people to sign a petition to send to Mexico urging the country to, among other things, improve its economy.

“The problem is in Mexico,” he said, “it’s not here.”

Audience member Ken Thomas called the Latino alliance’s cooperation with the Minutemen “a deal with the devil.”

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