Anti-Immigrant Attacks on CASA de Maryland Way Off Mark

Community Organizing National Politics
Gustavo Torres, Director of CASA

New Orleans   Reading the playbook, we are currently seeing the rightwing equivalent of a “Hail Mary” pass in their desperate attempt to somehow smear CASA de Maryland, one the largest and most effective state-based immigrant rights advocates in the country.  Although it is no doubt an expensive distraction for CASA, it important to see that this “attack and smear” scenario seems not to be getting any traction with virtually anyone in Maryland or elsewhere.  Thank goodness!

A marginal conservative outfit with the preposterous name of “Accuracy in Media,” first put out a hit piece of allegation, innuendo, and red-baiting, entitled, “CASA de Maryland:  The Illegals’ ACORN.”  I’m not precisely sure, but I don’t think that was NOT meant to be a compliment?   The author of the report was cited as being well known for his previous pieces on things like the Cloward-Piven “conspiracy,” which gives an informed reader a pretty good window to look into this garbage can.

What do they allege CASA has done wrong?  Frankly, reading the screed, it was hard to find a real allegation other than the fact that these folks are organizing a “hater brigade” and a lot of the demons that disturb their sleep they attempt to link to CASA.  Who?  Saul Alinksy, SEIU, Hugo Chavez, Venezuela, CITGO, Cubans, the DREAM Act, commies, and the like, that’s who.   Oh, and of course, they try to bring ACORN into this as much as they can as the bogey man of the rightwing whackos, and, oh yeah, me, based on compelling evidence of mischief like the fact that Gustavo Torres, the outstanding director of CASA, is on the advisory board of the Organizers’ Forum, that I chair, and that (you have to love this!) he is connected to me on Facebook.

The “friends” connections, however, establish this to be Torres. Among them are CASA de Maryland, friendly Maryland legislators and significantly, ACORN founder, Wade Rathke.

Yawn!  And, that’s what seems to have happened to this report in the REAL world.  On the rightwing they had 6000 Facebook “shares,” but in the bright light of day, this was a trial balloon that crashed and burned.

The latest effort in this anti-CASA campaign was to file a voluminous set of allegations (they claim 1500 pages worth of “evidence”) with the Maryland tax people and the Internal Revenue Service attempting to instigate investigations of CASA’s tax exempt status in both jurisdictions.  Good luck with that hater team!  Those are two slow boats going nowhere.  The hardest blows seem to be about whether or not some campaign in Maryland might have listed CASA or Gustavo as endorsers.  But, the whole thing read like a “who is on first, what is on second,” with no one having a real clue and at worst it boiling down to a clerical error.  Regardless, the right needs to figure this out.  If it seemed important enough for a candidate to cite Gustavo and CASA’s support to try to win, then there is political currency with the public that comes from CASA’s love light, which also means that these investigations are going nowhere.

There is a real fear these folks have of CASA though.  They fear it will continue to be successful and in fact become more powerful.

Maryland is a secure base of operations for field-testing a new kind of community organization. In discussing his New Americans Initiative, CASA Director Gustavo Torres recently said:  “My goal is to build 200,000 members in the next five years”… [And to someday] “build a powerful … movement of immigrants and other minorities including the African American community to fight for justice—and they decide what justice means.” (Emphasis added.) CASA wants to become the illegal immigrants’ ACORN.  And Torres has a good teacher: ACORN founder Wade Rathke, with whom he has become fast friends.

I’m rooting for CASA and Gustavo Torres and proud to be associated with both of them.  I hope everyone in Maryland and the DC area where CASA and Torres’ work is known and respected learn something from these textbook ACORN aspersions and allegations, and stand as tall with them as I have been honored to do.

CASA's "radical" connections