Monday, May 21, 2007

Feds Watching Anti-Immigrant Extremists

Since 2000, the number of extremist groups has increased by 40%, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, which closely tracks the groups' activities. In the past two years, the growth has been largely driven by the emergence of about 144 "nativist" groups that oppose immigration. ...

Charles Frahm, FBI deputy assistant director for counterterrorism, said there is increasing concern that the most radical elements of the anti-immigration wing may be "susceptible" to recruitment by white supremacists and other groups inclined toward violence.

Police departments across the country also are uneasy as political divisions regarding immigration enforcement have raised local tensions.

"This is certainly a concern for every police chief in the country," said Charlotte-Mecklenburg, N.C. Police Chief Darrel Stephens, president of the national Major City Chiefs Association. "As long as the issue remains unsettled, the tension grows."

Perhaps not since the anti-government militia movement came to prominence in the early 1990s, the Southern Poverty Law Center says, have so many groups embraced such a common campaign for dealing with what they describe as failed government policy.

"The infection is spreading," said Mark Potok, editor of the center's Intelligence Report.

"It's no longer unusual to hear vilifying fairy tales of immigrant-borne secret conspiracies and massive criminality on radio, cable television and even in the mouths of pandering politicians," he said.

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