USA Reconquista: Anti-immigrant forces warn

Leading the Charge sep 07

LOS ANGELES - On the far fringes of the pro-immigration movement, some Hispanic activists openly yearn for the day when immigrants rise up and retake the American Southwest, more than 150 years after the U.S. annexed it.

Mainstream immigration advocacy groups — as well as academics and experts on nearly all sides of the illegal immigration issue — dismiss these "reconquista" notions as rhetorical, not to be taken seriously.

Jim Boyd, for example, ran a losing campaign for City Council in Nashville, Tenn., on the single idea of stopping an "invasion" of Mexicans who he said want to seize much of the Southwest and secede from the United States.

Boyd got only 2 percent of the vote last month. That translates to more than 8,000 people.

Similarly, Mark Potok, director of the Southern Poverty Law Center‘s Intelligence Project, which tracks and monitors hate groups, said the reconquista idea is "completely bogus" but has "made its way into the mouths of national politicians and onto the screens of cable television news."

Charlie Norwood, a congressman from Georgia who died earlier this year, appeared to accept the conspiracy at face value, accusing the National Council of La Raza, a mainstream Washington advocacy group, of acting as a front organization for the "radical racist group" MEChA, or Chicano Student Movement of Aztlan.

"It doesn‘t end with secession," Norwood wrote. "The final plan includes the ethnic cleansing of Americans of European, African and Asian descent out of Aztlan."

Mexico‘s huge territorial losses were a result of defeat in the Mexican-American War. The 1848 Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo ceded what are now California, Utah and Nevada, and parts of present-day Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico and Wyoming, to the United States.

"Aztlan belongs to those who plant the seeds, water the fields, and gather the crops and not to the foreign Europeans," the manifesto reads. "With our heart in our hands and our hands in the soil, we declare the independence of our mestizo nation. We are a bronze people with a bronze culture."

Many prominent Hispanics, like Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and former California Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante, were once members of MEChA, and that only convinces some anti-immigration critics that the radicals are taking over ...