Saturday, June 05, 2004

Local News - The Idaho Statesman - PAC Formed to Counter Commissioner who sent invoice to Mexican Consulate

Local News - The Idaho Statesman - Always Idaho

Some Canyon County residents have formed Action Against Hate — a bi-partisan political action committee to combat what it characterizes as distortions and hate messages regarding undocumented immigrants.

The group believes that immigration policy needs reform, but not at the expense of creating fear and dehumanizing people.

Committee members were among the 200-plus signers of an open letter printed May 2 in the Idaho Press Tribune. The letter opposed what it described as Commissioner Robert Vasquez's anti-immigrant, anti-Mexican public statements.

"They simply drain away tax dollars, lower the wages of the hard-working Americans, bring disease and crime, and create a threat to our national security," Vasquez said in an April press release.

"His hateful messages attack human dignity," said Corrine Tafoya-Fisher, a Nampan who is helping organize Action Against Hate with local businessman Ray Veloz.

Vasquez said Friday night the new group won't influence his actions or statements.

"I'm not intimidated by them," he said. "They may run me out of office, but I'm not going to give up my freedom of speech or my right to defend my country or my constituents.

"It's important to have the opposing view presented, even if you have to pay for it," he said.

Tafoya-Fisher said Vasquez has incited fear and stereotypes regarding the immigrant population through his presentations to the media and in public forums, Tafoya-Fisher said.

She said organizers and residents were pushed to their limit when Vasquez sent the Mexican government a $2 million bill for detention and welfare services that the county spent on immigrants.

"Not only President George Bush but also Idaho Sen. Larry Craig have proposed federal action to address the issue of undocumented workers," said Humberto Fuentes, vice chair of the National Farmworker Justice Fund and a supporter of Action Against Hate. "The value of Mexican immigrants to the American workforce is reflected in the current proposals that would provide work visas."

He said the National Farmworker Justice Fund supports federal action to resolve problems of illegal immigration.

Vasquez said those pushing for legislation to help undocumented workers haven't had someone question their motives and methods as he has. In defense, they charge those who question them with racism, he said.

Action Against Hate will become an official political action committee this week, and the group is meeting this morning, Tafoya-Fisher said.

The group needs to be ready to respond to future public comments by Vasquez, she said.


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