U-T San Diego Profile Of Anti-Immigrant Coalition Hides Group's Nativist, Minutemen Connections

The U-T San Diego profiled a new anti-immigrant coalition in the San Diego region working to lobby against immigration reform but failed to note the coalition's ties to the nativist group, the Center for Immigration Studies, and to a former Minutemen organization.

In its profile of the San Diegans for Secure Borders Coalition, the U-T San Diego quoted a member of the coalition, Peter Nunez, who the U-T San Diego identified only as “a member of the coalition and a former U.S. attorney in San Diego.” It also discussed the founding of the group by two San Diego residents, Jeff Schwilk and Rob Luton:

A new coalition in San Diego County is lobbying members of Congress to support a plan that calls for enhanced border enforcement, decreased legal immigration and the end of automatic citizenship for those born in the United States.


The coalition was formed by San Diego residents Jeff Schwilk and Rob Luton.

“Amnesty is a bad idea in general, but certainly it's a bad idea if you are not first going to ensure border enforcement and workplace enforcement,” said Peter Nunez, a member of the coalition and a former U.S. attorney in San Diego. “If you don't secure the border and have a viable workplace enforcement program, then you will just be dealing with the same issue over and over and over again.”

However, the newspaper did not note that many of the people highlighted in its story have a connection to nativist and former Minutemen groups. Nunez is the board chairman for the anti-immigrant nativist group, the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS). CIS is part of the John Tanton network of anti-immigrant nativist groups, which include the hate group the Federation for American Immigration Reform and NumbersUSA. CIS Executive Director Mark Krikorian is known for making derogatory remarks about Muslims and the American-born children of immigrants.  

The coalition's founder Jeff Schwilk was “the hot-tempered leader of the San Diego Minutemen (SDMM), a nativist extremist organization with a reputation for violent confrontations and crude insults,” according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. In 2009, Schwilk was ordered to pay $135,000 to a Korean-American civil rights activist who filed a defamation lawsuit after the SDMM circulated photos of her and referred to her in derogatory and racist terms. 

In addition, Schwilk's group physically intimidated people they suspected of being undocumented immigrants:

On Saturday mornings, when they travel to the sleepy suburban gas stations where immigrant day laborers go to find work, they create scenes that would play well in a show called “Nativists Gone Wild.” They call immigrants “wetbacks” and “Julios.” They pull out Mace and threaten passing motorists who disagree with them. Calling those who hire day laborers “slavemasters,” they've been known to slap flashing amber police lights on their SUVs and chase the would-be employers down. When they're not busy physically intimidating migrants, they take to the airwaves and the Internet to accuse them, without a shred of evidence, of running child prostitution rings and practicing “voodoo Santeria rituals.”

Following these incidents and other intimidation methods, including pushing and shoving immigrants and health care workers and vandalizing immigrants' homes, the group and Schwilk remained under police surveillance.