NC City Silences Anti-Immigrant Groups

A city stopped some anti-immigrant hate.  Let’s celebrate!

This past Monday in Durham, North Carolina, the City Council voted on whether the Matricula Consular (issued by the Mexican government) is a valid form of ID.

Anti-immigrant groups, including ALIPAC, NC Listen, and NC Fire organized their members to come and speak at the meeting.   All three groups espouse anti-immigrant views, and NC Listen “partners” with FAIR, which has been labeled a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

ALIPAC and company objected to an ID policy supported by the Durham Police Dept.

They wanted to pressure politicians with their extreme views about immigrants: ALIPAC and NC Listen fear an “invasion” of immigrants and blame our country’s problems on them.

However, Mayor William Bell ruled that only residents of Durham could speak at the meeting.  The Mayor added that he had received e-mail messages that were “outright racist and border on the extremes of being outright obscene.”   Because they were not allowed to speak, the anti-immigrant groups walked out of the meeting in protest.

William Gheen, the president and spokesman for ALIPAC, disputed the “racist” e-mails by arguing, “Are there people in America who oppose illegal immigration who are dumb enough to destroy any chance of effectiveness that their emails could have with needless racist language?”

But, Mr. Gheen, one must ask, is racist language ever needed?  Isn’t it always needless?

Thankfully, the City Council of Durham stood up to these extreme views on Monday night.  They voted 5-2 for a policy widely used throughout the country and world.  Like other communities, the Durham Police Dept. believes that the Matricular Consular (CID card) can be a useful form of identification and help build trust between the police and the Mexican American community.

And the CID card isn’t anything new.  The Government of Mexico has issued the Matrícula Consular for over 133 years.  The CID card is part of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations (VCCR), an international agreement between 165 nations where consulates can issue “travel documents and passports to their citizens” living in other countries.

The Durham Immigrant Solidarity Committee and the Bill of Rights Defense Committee worked on this issue for nearly a year.  However, their victory Monday night will not completely stop the anti-immigrant groups.  In an online statement, NC Listen warns that they will take a “next step.”

Reasonable people disagree about what kind of immigration reform is needed.  But when you look at NC Fire’s website and its links to groups like the NC Children of the Confederacy, you can’t help but be alarmed.

The people of Durham have spoken out against such hate.

The rest of us need to do the same where we live.