Campaign to combat US 'anti-immigrant extremism'

By staff writers
October 24, 2007

National faith, civil rights and labour leaders have unveiled a new campaign to counter the 'growing anti-immigrant movement' in the US.

It aims to empower the voices of 'everyday Americans who have grown weary of the division created by anti-immigrant politics'.

The organisers say the campaign presents one of the few alternatives for those Americans who may find themselves conflicted on immigration and immigration reform, but are at odds with the tenor and ideological background of the anti-immigrant movement.

"Communities throughout the US were left divided in the wake of the battles initiated by the anti-immigrant movement," said Rev. David Ostendorf, Executive Director of the Center for New Community. "The Campaign for a United America will offer a platform for Americans across the land to stand up for the country they believe in, and to stand against the forces of intolerance."

Some of the components of the campaign include a new web site that will bring people across the nation together as part of the campaign. The site will feature profiles of everyday people who have decided to take a stand against intolerance and in favour of 'the nation's historic commitment to unity, equality and opportunity'.

The website will also a feature a Voices of Intolerance section that will profile some of the leaders of the anti-immigrant movement and their supporters in the media, who campaigners say are 'sowing division' throughout the nation.

Local advocates will be provided with campaign tool kits on how to best counter anti-immigrant organizing efforts that are dividing communities throughout the country.

The campaign will also facilitate dialogue on immigration issues among African-American community leaders. The African-American community has been particularly impacted by the fallout of anti-immigrant organizing efforts, say organisers.

This is believed to be one the first national efforts of its kind.

"Like many Americans, the African-American community is diverse in both thought and opinion regarding the subject of immigration and immigration reform," said Robin Williams, Associate Director of the United Food and Commercial Workers, Civil Rights and Community Action division. "We are troubled by increasing efforts on behalf of anti-immigrant groups and even white nationalist organizations to sow discord in the African-American community on the issue of immigration. We believe that our community will search for and find consensus on this critical topic guided by our deep sense of faith, justice and fairness."

The campaign is being launched with the support of the Center for New Community, The Women's Division, Board of Global Ministries, the United Methodist Church and the Rural Coalition.

"The anti-immigrant movement in its current form is a movement grounded in hate and intolerance," said Rev. Dave Ostendorf, Executive Director of the Center for New Community. "We believe it is time for all Americans of good will and honour to stand together in defence of dignity, equality, and opportunity for all peoples."

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