Subject: Letter to Editor
Please consider my response to Dan Rodricks for publication.
A lively article, but PLEASE, PLEASE, report accurately. We are not “Maryland’s anti-immigrant activists” as you suggest. We are a multi-ethnic, multi-racial anti-ILLEGAL immigrant group.
Please look up that word–ILLEGAL. It’s an important clue as to our concerns. Without it you are accusing us of being unfair. We are not. Please ask our affiliate organization – People for Change in PG County. They will explain our concerns. CASA is funded by O’Malley and Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez who provided $1.5 million to CASA after its Director Gustavo Torres spoke at a Venezuelan forum that included a discussion on “Is America Ripe for Revolution?” CASA freely admits they provide services “regardless of immigration status.”
There are laws, Dan, and illegal immigrants have broken those laws. I prefer ordered liberty. I assume you prefer chaos?
Help Save Maryland
Howard County Coordinator
Immigration issue rears its head in campaign 2010
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Casa de Maryland’s ribbon-cutting brings out politicians and protestors
June 17, 2010
In the final minutes of Radio Ehrlich last Saturday on WBAL-AM, Maryland’s former governor went to a caller he described as "a friend." I didn’t catch the Friend of Bob’s name, but I did get his message: All of Bob and Kendel Ehrlich’s listeners were invited to march down to Langley Park this weekend to protest the grand opening of the new multicultural center of Casa de Maryland.
The Republican wanna-be-governor-again — he of the famous "multicultural crap" comment of 2004 — didn’t say much in response to this; he was short of time. But he certainly helped spread the word about a protest that has Maryland’s anti-immigrant activists stirred up in the midst of campaign 2010.
On one side is Casa de Maryland, celebrating 25 years of providing support services to thousands of low-income Latino immigrants and any other newcomer who needed help understanding English and the laws, customs and policies of the United States or Maryland. In recent years, the nonprofit organization has become a lightning rod for those who want all illegals rounded up and deported.
On the other side are the self-proclaimed "patriots" who passionately support Arizona’s crackdown on immigrants and want to see a similar effort here. In the conservative blogosphere Casa de Maryland is described as a lawless organization that tutors illegal immigrants on how to avoid arrest, detention and deportation. What’s more, say the protestors, Casa does this with taxpayer support — and that’s as outrageous, they say, as ACORN getting government money.
So Saturday, these two forces — Casa and its many supporters versus Help Save Maryland and other anti-immigrant groups — meet in Langley Park as the new "Casa de Maryland Multicultural Center at the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Building" opens on 15th Avenue.
An announcement from Casa listed the following speakers: U.S. Sens. Barbara Mikulski and Benjamin Cardin, U.S. Reps. Chris Van Hollen and Steny Hoyer, Prince George’s County Executive Jack Johnson, Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett and religious leaders. (Gov. Martin O’Malley won’t be there due to the funeral of Maryland State Trooper 1st Class Wesley W. Brown, a spokesman said.)
The festive event is sponsored by Bank of America, Citi, and Kaiser Permanente. After the ribbon-cutting, 50 immigrants will be sworn in as U.S. citizens at a naturalization ceremony.
To build the new center, Casa says it received $6.5 million in tax credits through a partnership with Bank of America and Enterprise Community Partners, and that "local, state, and federal government, private foundations, corporations and individual supporters" contributed to the $13.8 million total cost.
"In a period of occasional attacks on immigrant-serving institutions and communities," Casa said in a press release, "the opening of the center represents a multi-year political victory and underscores Maryland’s continuing commitment to welcoming immigrants."
Meanwhile, Casa’s foes see Saturday afternoon’s event as part of a continuing criminal enterprise. Here’s how Help Save Maryland put it, shouted in all capital letters:
"CASA IS OPENING THEIR NEW MULTI-MILLION DOLLAR HISPANIC ILLEGAL ALIEN CENTER IN PREDOMINATELY BLACK PG COUNTY … WE ARE EXPECTING MANY OF THE LAWLESS, PRO-ILLEGAL ALIEN MARYLAND POLITICIANS WHO FUNDED THE BUILDING TO ATTEND … A VIRTUAL CESSPOOL OF POLITICAL PANDERING AND ANTI-AMERICAN SHOWMANSHIP."
Wait, there’s more: "BRING AMERICAN, ARIZONA AND MARYLAND FLAGS, SIGNS, POSTERS, MEGAPHONES, FRIENDS AND FAMILY. CASA OF MARYLAND HAS BEEN DRAINING OUR BUDGETS AND ATTRACTING CRIMINAL ILLEGAL ALIENS, DAY LABORERS AND MS-13 GANG MEMBERS FOR TOO LONG."
I asked Brad Botwin, the director of Help Save Maryland, if Bob Ehrlich supported his effort to mount a protest of Casa’s new center. "I was on Ehrlich show last two weeks plugging the June 19 event," he said in an e-mail. "Ehrlichs are supportive and oppose illegal immigration. They have linked my web site to their site."
If he feels that strongly about it, maybe Bob Ehrlich ought to pick up a megaphone and join the protest. He won’t have to worry about parking. Help Save Maryland is offering a bus shuttle from the shopping center across University Boulevard.
Dan Rodricks’ column appears Thursdays and Sundays in print and online, and Tuesdays online-only. His e-mail is dan.rodricks. http://www.twitter.com/MiddayRodricks