Elect 2012: Minuteman Project founder stumps for Keadle
By Karissa Minn
CHINA GROVE — A national leader against illegal immigration visited Rowan and Cabarrus counties Wednesday to campaign for a Congressional candidate.
Minuteman Project Founder Jim Gilchrist said he supports Scott Keadle, Republican candidate for North Carolina’s 8th District in the U.S. House.
The California-based Minuteman Project is an activist organization focused on immigration reform and border security. The volunteer members monitor the U.S.-Mexican border and report illegal activity to the U.S. Border Patrol.
Even though North Carolina is not on the border, Gilchrist said, it can still make an impact on illegal immigration.
“North Carolina can enact legislation similar to Oklahoma, Alabama, Georgia and Arizona, to let the federal government know that you are not ignoring the issue,” he said.
Such laws focus on actively finding and penalizing undocumented immigrants, as well as keeping them from receiving certain benefits or opportunities. In Arizona and Alabama, police are required to check the immigration status of those they stop, detain or arrest upon “reasonable suspicion.”
Keadle and Gilchrist ate lunch Wednesday at On the Border — a Mexican-style restaurant — in Concord before visiting the south branch of the Rowan Public Library in China Grove. There, they spoke with some early voters and stopped for an interview with a Post reporter.
Later, the two men headed back to Cabarrus County to meet and greet voters at Concord Fire Station No. 4.
“Dr. Keadle is an avid supporter of a nation governed by laws, not by mob rule,” Gilchrist said. “And he is acutely aware of the economic problems the nation has.”
All five of the Republican candidates for the 8th district — along with Democratic incumbent Rep. Larry Kissell — say they want to secure the United States’ border with Mexico.
They say those who are here illegally should not be given a path to citizenship, but some have offered ideas for a process to document them as legal residents or workers.
Kissell’s Democratic opponent, Marcus Williams, says there must be a penalty for illegal immigration, but it should allow for a way to earn citizenship.
Keadle and Gilchrist both say offering “amnesty” could incentivize illegal immigration, causing it to rise unchecked.
“We’re essentially not holding up the law,” Gilchrist said. “We’re sending a message to the current generation and the future generation … that the rule of law essentially is meaningless, except for those who are foolish, naive or gullible enough to obey the laws.”
Gilchrist said he’s concerned about the United States’ status as a global economic power and a civilized society, and there could be “dire consequences” to ignoring the immigration issue.
Keadle said those consequences deal with financial security, national security and the security of the Constitution and the republic.
Terrorism is a real threat when the country doesn’t know who is crossing its borders, he said.
He added that undocumented workers are “taking American jobs.”
Gilchrist said illegal immigration of the poor can drive up health care and education costs. He said he hopes they can be taught how to build their dream in their own country.
At the end of the interview, Keadle said he wants to stress that neither he nor Gilchrist are anti-immigration, and they both have family members who came from outside the country.
“My wife is a legal immigrant who came here from China,” Keadle said. “She came here the right way, and she deserves to be treated fairly and with respect for the law.”
Contact reporter Karissa Minn at 704-797-4222.
Facebook: facebook.com/ Karissa.SalisburyPost