While a number of localities have adopted or are considering implementing anti-immigrant ordinances modeled after Hazleton, Pennsylvania’s “Illegal Immigration Relief Act,” Hazleton’s measure was almost directly adopted from a failed petition drive in San Bernardino, California, written by Joseph Turner, head of a group called Save Our State. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports on how the effort spread from California to the small town of Valley Park, Missouri, where – despite a lack of problems with its immigrant community – police have begun enforcing the new law:
From the beginning, this is how Joseph Turner envisioned his idea to target illegal immigrants would play out: Local communities taking up his cause and moving the issue from the halls of Congress into the chambers of city council. Today, the 29-year-old activist from California is watching cities across the country enact or consider laws to crack down on illegal immigration. They are working off a blueprint he wrote. And some, including Valley Park, have already made it law. …
Turner, founder of the anti-illegal immigration group Save Our State and an aide to a state legislator, touted his plan on the radio and sent out hundreds of e-mails to city officials throughout the nation. He failed to get enough signatures to force a vote on the law in San Bernardino. But word of his cause spread. And eventually, a handful of municipalities adopted ordinances nearly identical to the one he championed.
Turner describes himself as enjoying a “fulfilling experience” in response to stories about families being driven out of Valley Park. He also outlines his ideology:
Turner, who believes state and federal leaders have moved too slowly on immigration reform, describes himself as a “proud nationalist.”
“I believe this country is superior and I believe our culture is superior to all others,” he declared.
He sees illegal immigrants as the pre-eminent threat to that culture.
Turner is echoing sentiments expressed by Samuel Huntington and Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-Colorado), who warn of a “clash of civilizations” that threatens what Huntington calls America’s “Anglo-Protestant values.” Last year, the Southern Poverty Law Center reported how such an approach tends to attract white supremacists, who see an outfit like Save Our State as a “Trojan horse” for extremists to influence mainstream politics.