On June 10, the Justice Department announced that three Texas National Guard members helping to patrol the Mexican border had been charged with human smuggling. One of the three was caught, in uniform, driving a van packed with 24 illegal Mexican immigrants along Interstate 35 in Texas, some 68 miles north of the border. That driver, 26-year-old Pfc. Jose Rodrigo Torres of Laredo, was arrested June 7. His two accomplices, 25-year-old Julio Cesar Pacheco (also of Laredo) and 36-year-old Sgt. Clarence Hodge, Jr. (of Fort Worth), were arrested the following day. The suspects now face a possible federal indictment on smuggling conspiracy charges, which could land them each in prison for up to a decade and cost them as much as $250,000 apiece in fines.
According to the complaint by the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Texas, Pacheco and Torres had run numerous smuggling trips before. It seems that Pacheco headed the operation, recruiting fellow soldiers to help him do his dirty work and paying them lots of money for their efforts. The scheme worked like this: Pacheco collected anywhere from $1,500 to $2,000 from each Mexican wishing to be smuggled across the American border. In turn, he commissioned Torres, at a rate of roughly $150 per passenger, to drive the illegals to a secure, predetermined location in Texas. In an interview conducted last year, Pacheco, who had just been hired to help monitor the border in his hometown of Laredo, told the Associated Press that he was eager to begin his new assignment. Now we know why.
After his apprehension, Torres waived his Miranda rights and told Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents that he had transported illegal aliens on approximately seven previous occasions, and that Pacheco had paid him $1,000 to $3,500 for each trip, depending upon how many passengers he was carrying.
Hodge played a much smaller, albeit significant, role. His job (on June 6) was to provide cover for Torres by walking up to the latter’s vehicle at a Border Patrol checkpoint along Interstate 35, some 30 miles north of Laredo, and give the appearance that he and the driver were conducting National Guard-related business. At approximately the following night, however, Torres’ van was stopped by a different set of Border Patrol agents 33 miles farther north; they immediately observed the men hiding inside the vehicle.
Most crimes are, by definition, characterized by self-interest and an absence of concern for the ramifications of one’s own actions. And as such, the transgressions of these three national guardsmen are hardly unique. But the fact that the two major players -- Pacheco and Torres -- are Hispanic, may bear some notice. Modern America has fallen under the sway of the leftist notion that people ought to define themselves, first and foremost, not as Americans but rather as members of a particular racial or ethnic group -- “hyphenated Americans,” as the saying goes. Founded on the axiom that the United States is a nation of white oppressors who seek to dominate nonwhites, this mindset has spawned the ever-growing phenomenon of groupthink, where any individual who gives greater allegiance to his country than to his ethnic group is deemed a sort of traitor to his people.
To discern where Pacheco and Torres might possibly have learned such a value system, we needn’t look far. Consider, for a moment, those organizations that are the dominant voices on the issue of “immigrant rights” in America today. Without exception, they promote the idea that shared victim status (as emblemized by skin color and class) far outranks patriotism as a justification for solidarity of purpose. Portraying American society as inherently unjust, these purported guardians of the downtrodden actively encourage illegals to view themselves as combatants in a noble, desperate struggle to win the rights and privileges they are allegedly being denied.
One such organization is MEChA, an umbrella of radical Chicano student groups with a presence on some 300 college campuses across the United States. Embracing the ideology of “Chicanismo,” MEChA holds Chicano purity to be its highest ideal, and views assimilation with “white America” as a betrayal of ethnic heritage. The organization’s slogan -- “Por la Raza todo. Fuera de La Raza nada" -- translates to “For the race, everything. Outside of the race, nothing.” In 1995, UC San Diego’s official MEChA publication printed an editorial characterizing a recently deceased Latino immigration agent as a race traitor who, like “all the migra [a pejorative term for the INS] pigs,” deserved his death. Exhorting students to “constantly remind” Chicano faculty and administrators “where their loyalty lies,” MEChA’s national constitution emphasizes the importance of “politicizing our Raza with an emphasis on indigenous consciousness.” MEChA’s founding manifesto rejects the very notion of respect for U.S. borders -- “We do not recognize capricious frontiers on the bronze continent [the United States]” -- and vows to repel the “brutal ‘gringo’ invasion of our territories.”
The largest Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization in the United States, the National Council of La Raza (NCLR), opposes the REAL ID Act requiring that all driver’s license and photo ID applicants be able to verify that they are legal U.S. residents. It opposes allowing state and local law-enforcement authorities to enforce federal immigration laws. It opposed the “Secure Fence Act of 2006” which authorized 700 miles of new border fencing along the U.S.-Mexico border. Raul Yzaguirre, who was President of NCLR from 1974 to 2004, believes that illegal aliens are best described as “hardworking people who are paying taxes, who are helping this economy.” He opposes the imposition of sanctions against employers who hire illegal immigrants, and in fact rejects the very use of the term “illegal.” Such attitudes proved to be of great benefit to Yzaguirre’s career. On April 12, 2007, Hillary Rodham Clinton named him to co-chair her presidential campaign and to direct her outreach efforts to Hispanic voters.
Another very prominent “immigrant rights” group is the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), which claims a membership of approximately 115,000. In LULAC’s calculus, the movement to establish English as the official language of the United States is “incredibly divisive because it sends the message that the culture of language minorities is inferior and illegal.” Such a policy, warns LULAC, could “fuel the fires of racism” and consequently spark “hate crimes and right wing terrorist attacks.” Advocating amnesty for all illegal aliens, LULAC charges that America’s national security measures since 9/11 “have been focused on terrorizing good people simply because they are foreigners.” LULAC has portrayed the Minuteman Project -- a nonviolent, volunteer effort by private citizens seeking to restrict the flow of illegal immigration -- as “an anti-immigrant group” composed of “racists, cowards, un-Americans [sic], vigilantes, [and] domestic terrorists” who are “often affiliated with white supremacy groups.” Jose Velez, who headed LULAC from 1990 to 1994, claimed that the US. Border Patrol is “the enemy of my people and always will be.”
Perhaps the most influential Hispanic advocacy group in the United States is the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF), which contends that Americans who oppose unrestricted immigration are merely giving expression to their inner “racism and xenophobia.” Advocating “legalization” for all “undocumented persons living and working here in the U.S.,” MALDEF depicts illegal immigrants as the unappreciated “backbone of the U.S. economy.” In the organization’s view, supporters of “English Only” policies are “motivated by racism and anti-immigrant sentiments,” and anyone who opposes the hiring of illegal aliens wishes to discriminate against “brown-skinned people.”
La Voz de Aztlán is the Internet publication of the Nation of Aztlán, a California-based secessionist organization that seeks ultimately to gain, for Mexico, ownership of the Southwestern United States -- territory that it claims was “stolen” by white America. La Voz is intolerant of Latinos who hold views that conflict with its own. One such individual is Linda Chavez, an outspoken opponent of bilingual education and affirmative action. According to La Voz, Chavez is an “extraordinary malinchista” (traitor) and a “coconut” (brown on the outside, white on the inside) similar to “the brutish Jewish female Kapos at Auschwitz who received special favors for sleeping with their Nazi masters.” The publication further likened her to black “Uncle Toms” like Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and “House Niggers” like former UC Regent Ward Connerly (both opponents of affirmative action).
An organization that was particularly active in the massive “immigrant rights” rallies of 2006 was the Mexica Movement (MM), whose central thesis is that European “invaders” unjustly “stole” the North American continent from its rightful owners. MM views existing borders between Canada, the United States, Mexico, and Central America as the arbitrary constructs of squatters who are illegally occupying land that is not rightfully theirs. By this reasoning, white Americans are the real “illegals” -- intruders in a land where they do not rightfully belong. MM counsels its people to steadfastly eschew any impulse to assimilate into America’s illegitimate society or to embrace its inherently corrupt values: “We are educating our people against the ignorant suicidal assimilation into European blood and culture. . . . Assimilation means marrying white to kill the brown in us, to kill the heart of us. Assimilation means the end of us. Assimilation sucks us down into the white race.”
These are just a few of the multitudes of vocal “pro-immigrant” groups that are largely portrayed by the media as well-meaning advocates for the powerless and the poor. In essence, they reject all U.S. efforts to maintain border integrity and to regulate the flow of immigration. Do we know for certain that their mindset had infected Julio Cesar Pacheco and Jose Rodrigo Torres specifically? No. But the fact that both men are Hispanic seems too coincidental to be a genuine coincidence. Given that they were raised in an American culture where the sentiments and worldviews of the aforementioned groups were received with solemn respect by political leaders, community activists, and the media alike, it would not be at all extraordinary for these two young men to have been profoundly influenced by those teachings. And on a practical level their Hispanic backgrounds undoubtedly helped them gain access to the migrants involved, and to win the latter’s trust by conveying a desire to help out some of “their own people.”
Nor are Pacheco and Torres alone. In March, for instance, two former Marine Corps recruiters in Laredo -- Victor Domingo Ramirez and Vic Martine Martinez -- were convicted and sent to prison for using their positions and uniforms to illegally smuggle immigrants into the United States. The tree of leftism -- rooted in the notion that grievances centered on race and class define one’s loyalties more legitimately than does one’s status as an American -- continues to bear bitter fruit.