Demonizing Migrant Children Proves An Epic Fail For Anti-Immigrant Groups

CREDIT: Arkansas United Community Coalition

Anti-Immigrants can’t even throw a good rally anymore.

Anti-immigrant groups have hit upon the issue of children fleeing violence who are arriving unaccompanied by adults at our southern border. These children are coming from three countries: El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala. All three countries have very serious problems with gang violence, murder and child trafficking into prostitution. Under current US federal law these children have the right to have their cases thoroughly evaluated to ensure that no child is returned to a country where they might be killed, injured or trafficked.

The anti-immigrant groups want to show that this increase in children fleeing violence who are showing up at our southern border is somehow indicative of a failed Obama Administration immigration policy. Their ultimate goal is to create enough political pressure so that Obama will not act unilaterally through executive action to provide relief to some portion of the 12 million undocumented people living in the United States. Progressives have been pushing Obama to act unilaterally so that undocumented immigrants who have built strong roots in this country and who are law abiding are not always in fear of being arrested and deported.

To make their case that Americans are really upset about an increase in unaccompanied children at the border, anti-immigrant groups staged what was supposed to have been a massive number of protests around the country. They staged a “National Day of Protesting Against Immigration Reform, Amnesty & Border Surge” which for some reason was actually two days, this past Friday and Saturday. This effort was led by three anti-immigrant groups, ALIPAC, Make Them Listen, and Overpasses for America.

Local anti-immigrant groups, many of them associated with the national anti-immigrant organization Federation for American Immigration Reform, then encouraged people to join a local protest. This included groups like Colorado Alliance for Immigration Reform, South Carolina’s Americans Have Had Enough Coalition, Oregonians For Immigration Reform, Minnesotans Seeking Immigration Reform, New Yorkers for Immigration Control and Enforcement and Help Save Maryland. The right wing World Net Daily “news” website which has a long history of fomenting conspiracy theories wrote a glowing article on the coming protests entitled “Hundreds of Cities fight back Against ‘Invasion’.”

The organizers sent around a list of some 300 locations where protests would allegedly be occurring around the country.

Despite this all in effort, the anti-immigrants failed miserably to turn people out to protest children. If these rallies around the country were meant to demonstrate the power of the anti-immigrant movement, they may instead signal its end. In many cases, no one showed up at all. In others, the numbers were miniscule. In still others, anti-immigrant protestors were overwhelmed in numbers by local people who rallied in counter protests supporting both the children fleeing violence and immigrants already here.

In the modern world the failure of the anti-immigrant groups to garner support was quickly recorded on cell phone cameras, twitter and other social media. These photos were shared and they are worth taking a look at.

In McAllen Texas, my colleagues at ThinkProgress took photos of the folks who turned out against children fleeing violence:


CREDIT: Jack Jenkins

Unfortunately for the anti-immigrant protestors, here are the counter protestors who want our federal government to ensure these children fleeing violence are not returned unless we know for certain that they will not be killed, injured, or trafficked into prostitution:


CREDIT: Jack Jenkins

Of course, that is just one place, maybe things were better for the anti-immigrant groups in Milwaukee. Here is a photo of the anti-immigrant protest there.


CREDIT: Voces de la Frontera

That photo was sent in by the community group Voces de la Frontera which staged a much larger counter protest in support of the children fleeing violence on the same overpass. They also sent photos of counter protestors who support the children who are leaving Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala because of the high murder rates, human sex trafficking and threats from large organized violent drug gangs.


CREDIT: Voces de la Frontera


CREDIT: Voces de la Frontera

Minnesota’s Advocates for Human Rights reported that they only found one person at any of the scheduled protests in that state. The gentleman held a sign outside the Mexican Consulate in Saint Paul, but got an earful from people who lived nearby, and chose to depart. Mexican consulates were apparently a popular location to protest. The Center for New Community tracked anti-immigrant protests around the country and reports that in their hometown of Chicago eight people showed up to protest against children fleeing violence in front of the Mexican consulate. They told CNC they came because of Overpasses for America. It is unclear why anyone would protest outside a Mexican Consulate since the children are from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.

In Arkansas about 6 people showed up in opposition to the United States evaluating the cases of children fleeing violence.

They were well outnumbered by families supporting those same immigrant children.


Unfortunately not all of the protests were completely peaceful. In Lansing Michigan, local news reported that three people were arrested, apparently two anti-immigrant protestors and one counter protestor. The anti-immigrant protestors brought guns to the protest, which is legal in Michigan. Despite this, they were ultimately turned away by the larger number of counter-protestors. While no one was physically injured, racial epithets and profanity were used.

Most of the small remaining number of protests were much more peaceful, possibly because they were so sparsely attended as to not draw attention. The Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada reported that “one person and two lawn chairs showed up in Vegas today.” They sent along this photo:


CREDIT: Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada


Henry Fernandez is Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress Action Fund focusing on state and municipal policy. You can find him on twitter at @HenryFernandezJ.