On August 10–11, 2012, an anti-immigrant conference will take place in Wilmington, North Carolina titled, “IIImpact – illegal immigration and the cost to YOU!” The list of conference speakers was announced on July 23 and brings together many of the main anti-immigrant voices in the state as well as some speakers known for their anti-Muslim statements and associations.
The conference is the latest example of an increase in activity by the anti-immigrant players in North Carolina. In 2011, the NC House created the House Select Committee on the State’s Role in Immigration Policy. The Committee has had numerous hearings throughout 2012 and has provided a platform for anti-immigrant and immigrant rights activists to voice their opinions. On June 13, 2012, for example, anti-immigrant leaders including William Gheen, James Johnson and Ron Woodard met with Speaker of the House Thom Tillis (R-District 98) to discuss immigration issues. It is unclear at this time what the attendance of the conference will be but anti-immigrant groups in North Carolina have been encouraging people to go to the event for a number of weeks.
Scheduled speakers at the August event include:
William Gheen – Founder/head of the anti-immigrant group Americans for Legal Immigration PAC (ALIPAC). Gheen has a long history of hateful rhetoric towards immigrants. ADL has a lengthy profile on Gheen which can be read here.
James Johnson – Founder/head of the anti-immigrant group North Carolinians for Immigration Reform and Enforcement (NCIFRE). On his Facebook page, Johnson has circulated material from the racist Web site, VDARE.com and the white supremacist group, American Renaissance. Johnson has also attended FAIR’s “Hold Their Feet to the Fire” event in the past.
Ron Woodard – president of the anti-immigrant group, NC Listen. NC Listen is listed on the Web site of the extreme anti-immigrant group Federation for American Immigration Reform’s (FAIR) as a local affiliate for North Carolina. NC Listen’s mission statement says that it “partners” with FAIR. Woodard has also attended FAIR’s annual “Hold Their Feet to the Fire” event in the past.
Sheriff Sam Page (R-Rockingham) will also be speaking. Page spoke to Congressional Leaders at an event put together by FAIR in May 2012. In October 2011, Page participated in a panel titled, “Crime Challenges from Illegal Immigration” which was sponsored and moderated by the anti-immigrant group Center for Immigration Studies (CIS).
Ilario Pantano – A former candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives in 2010 and 2012, Pantano has promoted anti-Muslim sentiment. Pantano spoke at both the 2010 and 2011 9/11 rallies in New York City put on by anti-Muslim activist Pamela Geller. He has also written the following about the Islamic center close to ground zero: “It is about marking religious, ideological and territorial conquest.” He continued by stating, “This mosque is a martyr-marker honoring the terrorists who less than a decade ago killed thousands of us just two blocks away, and it must be stopped.”