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Posted Friday, June 2, 2006
                     
Anti-immigrant billboard put up in Little Haiti
                    
By Hansen Sinclair, Special to the NNPA
from the Westside Gazette

MIAMI (NNPA), June , 2006 --It may as well have said, “Get Out of Our Country,” because the message is just that clear.

A sign recently erected in Little Haiti communicated effectively just how some Americans feel about illegal immigrants. The sign, at the corner of NW 79th Street and right next to Interstate 95 reads boldly, “Stop the Invasion.”

The sign stems from a campaign by the Grassfire Alliance to close off the U.S.-Mexico border to illegal immigration.

Signs such as this one have been posted around the nation, especially in areas where illegal immigration runs rampant. The billboard was a shock for not just residents in the area, but for passers-by as well.

“I can’t believe my eyes,” said one gas station patron who wanted to remain nameless.

“This, to me is just outrageous. I can’t believe they actually allowed this sign to be put up.”

The patron is of Cuban descent, but was born in Miami. Because of the nature of his employment, he requested to remain anonymous.

The group received online donations in order to pay for the signs. They are heavily in favor of stricter immigration enforcement laws, but they oppose President Bush’s guest worker program.

Many who saw the sign said it just didn’t make sense, especially in a city such as Miami where it is so diverse and where immigrants fuel the economy.

Janet Hubbard, a firm supporter of the ACLU and similar organizations said, “People are insensitive.

We all have ancestors who were immigrants. Whoever put this sign up is just ignorant. Without our tourism or immigrants, Miami would be nothing. Most of our government is made up of immigrants themselves or relatives of immigrants. Even our mayor is an immigrant. I can’t believe he let this sign go up.”

President of the group Steve Elliott stands by his signs -- which have already been situated in Atlanta and Dallas -- saying that demonstrations and protests in metropolitan cities show just how many immigrants there are. “Hundreds of thousands show up to march,” he said. “We need to wake up and tighten up our laws.”

Despite what he considers a patriotic attitude, some view Elliott as nothing more than a bigot when recited some of his comments.

“This is just the sort of injustice we are talking about,” the anonymous gas station patron said. “Racism is definitely alive and kicking in the South.”

Not only are the sign and Elliot’'s view questioned, but the location of the sign itself -- right on the verge of Little Haiti.

Jack Lieberman, Haiti Solidarity Committee, said the fact that the sign is right at the edge of Little Haiti seems intentional.

“Of all the places to put such a sign; the sign itself is offensive, but the location is horrendous. We definitely plan on doing something about it.”

No one can predict just how long the billboard will stay up, but one thing is for sure, this will not be the end of this discussion.

Copyright 2001-2006 National Newspaper Publishers Association, Inc. Reprinted, Friday, June 2, 2006.

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