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A state lawmaker who wants to reinstate a 1950s federal deportation program known as “Operation Wetback” is under fire again for sending supporters information from a white separatist group.
Republican Rep. Russell Pearce has apologized for e-mailing the article from the West Virginia-based National Alliance. But that hasn’t stopped criticism from all directions, including state GOP leaders.
Arizona Republican Chairman Matt Salmon called the e-mail a “severe mistake,” while U.S. Rep. J.D. Hayworth says he no longer supports Pearce’s re-election bid.
“Given the regrettable and disturbing nature of the e-mail Russell Pearce circulated earlier this week, I cannot in good conscience lend my endorsement to his candidacy for State Representative,” Hayworth said in a statement.
The article lashes out at how the media portrays “any racially conscious White person who looks askance at miscegenation or at the rapidly darkening racial situation in America.”
It says the “media masters” force on the public their view of “a world in which every voice proclaims the equality of the races, the inerrant nature of the Jewish ‘Holocaust’ tale, the wickedness of attempting to halt the flood of non-White aliens pouring across our borders … .”
Pearce said he immediately sent two apologies to supporters after forwarding the article. He said he did not know what the group was and that he had not read the entire article before copying it into his e-mail.
“My heart is really hurt to think something like that would go out under my name,” Pearce said Tuesday. “I was very embarrassed I didn’t have better diligence and read the whole article.”
Democratic Gov. Janet Napolitano said Pearce’s remarks show “an accelerating pattern” of extremism.
In a radio interview last month, Pearce called for the revival of the 1950s deportation program for illegal immigrants. He refused to apologize for using the pejorative term “wetback.”
“I think it’s becoming clear that Russell Pearce is out of the mainstream of Arizona,” Napolitano said Wednesday. “He doesn’t speak for Arizonans. He’s so far to the right that his contribution to public discourse is limited.”
Bill Straus, director of the Anti-Defamation League’s Arizona Region, told the East Valley Tribune he was surprised that Pearce, one of the GOP’s leading voices in the state on immigration issues, did not immediately recognize the National Alliance or its National Vanguard publication.
Strauss said he does not think Pearce shares the beliefs espoused in the article and said the lawmaker called him to apologize about it.
Tammie Pursley, Pearce’s Democratic opponent, called the e-mail “just another layer of divisiveness” from Pearce and said she was concerned a political leader was not more careful about what he sent.
Pearce did not return an e-mail or calls from The Associated Press to his office and home Wednesday. A secretary at his office said he was busy at meetings all day.