Even in the heart of “progressive” Montgomery County, a growing number of Marylanders are taking a stand against day-laborer centers for illegal aliens in their communities, and that doesn’t sit well with advocates who tend to regard any criticism of such facilities as “nativist” bigotry. The current epicenter of the battle is a half-acre parcel of county-owned land in Derwood, near the Shady Grove Metro station, a location announced in January by Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett. The Derwood facility, which began operations in April, is one of three operated in the county by Casa of Maryland, whose executive director, Gustavo Torres, is a well-connected political operative who served as a member of Gov. Martin O’Malley’s transition team.
On the issue of illegal immigration, Mr. Leggett is in a difficult position — caught between his sworn duty to enforce the law (and that includes laws he doesn’t personally like) and his responsibilities as member of a Democratic Party political machine that considers groups like CASA, the state’s number one advocacy organization for illegals, to be an integral part of its political coalition.
That’s why Mr. Leggett and Montgomery County Police Chief Tom Manger have spent months wrestling with the “problem” of whether to enforce immigration warrants — something that could only become an issue in a very liberal jurisdiction like Montgomery. (Fortunately, they decided to continue to make the arrests). But on most matters related to illegal aliens, political correctness reigns supreme. For example, Mr. Leggett has said publicly that his county will not go the way of Prince William and Loudoun counties in neighboring Virginia, which in recent months adopted resolutions that restrict public services to illegals.
Some Montgomery residents, however, are determined to send Mr. Leggett a message of their own: that CASA should no longer receive taxpayer subsidies courtesy of the county or the state of Maryland. So, on July 22, about 30 people, including members of an organization called Help Save Maryland, the Maryland Minutemen Civil Defense Corps and American Border Patrol protested outside the Derwood center, where they were rudely greeted by a roughly 30-member contingent of open-borders activists. The latter group included members of the Salvadoran FMLN political party (the FMLN is descended from a Communist revolutionary movement backed by Cuban strongman Fidel Castro that fought a U.S.-backed elected government in El Salvador back in the 1980s) who countered that illegals should be as free to pursue happiness as persons here lawfully. We totally disagree with this premise — but it certainly doesn’t constitute hate speech.
The same cannot be said for some of the other “arguments” made by illegal-alien advocates that morning. Some jeered within earshot of reporters slogans like “Minutemen, KKK, racist bigots. go away.” That sort of talk is based upon a lie: that organizations opposing illegal immigration are somehow a cabal of racists like the Ku Klux Klan. Unfortunately, there is a propaganda campaign afoot to smear anyone who is skeptical of open borders (and subsidizing with tax money organizations like CASA of Maryland which encourage violation of the law). The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), a once-great organization that spent decades combatting the KKK and educating Americans about the danger posed by such violent racist groups, is spearheading this campaign.
Today the SPLC (www.splcenter.org) appears to have as its mission trashing anyone who doesn’t believe in open borders and mass amnesty. On its Web site, the group has an ongoing feature it calls “Nativist News” — click into it and it’s apparent that the aim of the site is to depict the Montgomery demonstrators who oppose CASA and conservatives like journalist John O’Sullivan and organizations like the Family Research Council (in other words, mainstream conservatives) as persons catering to bigotry because they don’t believe in open borders. This kind of guilt-by-association is contemptible, and we urge all decent people — whatever their views on illegal immigration — to make clear that there is no place for such smear tactics in Maryland.