LCCR Decries Hate Rhetoric around Immigration & Applauds NCLR’s Campaign to Take Hate out of the Debate

Media 01.31,08

The Leadership Conference on Civil Rights (LCCR), the nation’s oldest, largest civil and human rights coalition, decries the hate language injected in the immigration debate by known hate and vigilante groups and salutes the National Council of La Raza for launching a campaign to counter rhetoric– inadvertently legitimized on the airwaves– that demonizes immigrants and Hispanic Americans.

“The NCLR campaign and its website – – couldn’t come at a better time than during this presidential campaign year when immigration is certainly being discussed,” said Wade Henderson, LCCR’s President and CEO, “Janet Murguia is to be saluted for putting candidates on notice that they can’t build their candidacies around the scurrilous anti-immigrant sentiments of hate groups.”

“Words matter,” said Henderson, noting that LCCR works with NCLR and other civil rights groups to confront hate speech. Henderson testified on Capitol Hill last year about the attempt of anti-immigrant groups to use immigration as a wedge issue among minorities and LCCR also facilitated a common ground convening of minority groups around the immigration issue.

“The rhetoric of anti-immigration groups increasingly resembles an orchestrated propaganda campaign of code words to vilify Hispanic Americans as dangerous, threatening, subhuman and inferior,” said Henderson,   “Other ethnic groups have seen this tactic before and know that their interests lie, not with opponents, who have never supported civil rights, but with their fellow citizens.”

The Southern Poverty Law Center and the Anti-Defamation League have charted the rise in the use of code words that label immigrants and Latinos as a threat to the American way of life, including:

  • References to immigrants as “an army of invaders” or an “invading force”

  • Associating immigrants with animals and refers to them as “a massive horde” or “swarm”

  • Accusing immigrants of “bringing crime and disease” to America, including “leprosy, tuberculosis, and malaria” and “gang warfare”

  • Purveying the conspiracy theory of “reconquista” or “Atzlán” – the taking back of lands in the southwestern United States for Mexico

    Henderson added: “Television news channels and cable channels have a role to play in airing the immigration debate, but must be mindful not to inadvertently promote the kind of demonization that justified slavery, blamed the Irish for economic problems in the early 20th century, and led to the incarceration of thousands of Japanese Americans during World War II.”