The seal of one hate group associated with the KKK, based in North Carolina.
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) profiles a year of hate groups’ actions in the latest issue of The Intelligence Report, the organization’s quarterly investigative news magazine monitoring the radical right.
In a feature article on the rising influence of the nativist movement, The Report highlights the actions of the Raleigh, N.C.-based Americans for Legal Immigration (ALI-PAC). The group’s leader, William Gheen, 39, left his position as legislative assistant to state Sen. High Webster (R-Alamance) to form the political action committee in April 2005.
According to the article, Gheen was instrumental in derailing a bill that would have granted in-state tuition to “immigrants who had graduated from high school after attending four consecutive years of public school in North Carolina and who supplied a sworn affidavit showing they were in the country legally.” Gheen denounced the bill as “in-state tuition for illegal immigrants.”
Gheen’s group, funded by the Federation for American Immigration Reform (recently named a hate group by SPLC) is just one of many nativist movement organizations popping up across the nation, according to the Center. Those groups are only adding to the rising number of groups declared to have official “hate group” status.
The Southern Poverty Law Center, founded as a small civil rights law firm in 1971, has tracked hate groups and movements across the nation for decades. According to their research, the number of hate groups in the U.S. has risen by as much as 48 percent since 2000, when only 602 hate groups existed nationwide. The 888 tracked hate groups in 2007 represented a five percent increase over the 844 groups in 2006.
“Hate groups continue to successfully exploit the immigration debate to their advantage, even though the immigration issue has largely disappeared from the presidential debate,” said Mark Potok, editor of The Intelligence Report. “The fact is that they’ve been aided and abetted by mainstream pundits and politicians who give these haters a platform for their propaganda.”
ALI-PAC and Gheen are just two of a number of new nativist groups and leaders. According to SPLC, hard-line leaders like Gheen, ranging in age from 25 to 81, and have “advocated everything from forcibly sterilizing Mexican women to mining the U.S.-Mexican border.”
In the past three years, more than 300 anti-immigration groups have been founded. About half of those have been listed as “nativist extremist” groups by SPLC and some are already classified as hate groups.
Between the Carolinas, South Carolina has the higher number of active hate groups. Forty-five exist statewide, including 28 chapters of the League of the South and four chapters of the Council of Conservative Citizens, as well as numerous KKK, White Nationalist, Neo-Nazi and general hate groups. Black separatist groups affiliated with the Nation of Islam operate in Charleston and Columbia.
At present, North Carolina has 28 hate groups statewide, including six League of the South chapters and five Nation of Islam chapters, as well as more than a dozen KKK, Christian Identity and White Nationalist organizations.