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According to statistics maintained by the state, 43 percent of Lincoln Elementary school students were Hispanic in the 2004-2005 school year. That year the school met federal performance standards for language arts and mathematics.
Not long after the assembly, Cawley went looking for people who shared his views on immigration and nationalism. He said he read many anti-illegal immigration websites but was disturbed that most focused on skin color rather than immigration status. Cawley says he has no problem with immigrants of color as long as they immigrate to the United States legally, follow the law, speak English and acknowledge the United States has a Judeo-Christian heritage.
Dowell Myers, a professor and director of the Population Dynamics Research Group at the University of Southern California, said research has shown Latino immigrants assimilate. One measure he uses to track assimilation is homeownership. Myers pointed to 2008 data showing half of all Latino immigrants in Utah were homeowners.
"Sometimes people assume all immigrants are illegal and newly arrived," Myers said in an email. "New illegal immigrants are definitely not assimilated. But most Latino immigrants are legal residents and most are long settled."
Ideally, Cawley said, undocumented immigrants would be forcibly deported, but he realizes that is not feasible. Instead, Cawley said, government should remove the incentives for them to remain in the country by eliminating their jobs and benefits.
Cawley isn’t certain how he found the Minuteman Project but seems to recall he saw it advertised on a flier. At the first meeting he attended in 2005, Cawley says he "got chills." Attendees recited the Pledge of Allegiance. They focused on preserving the cultures and values of the United States, Cawley said, and not on race.
By 2007, Cawley was chairman of the board and speaking on behalf of the project. He has testified at the state Capitol, supported raids on businesses that employ undocumented immigrants and pushed for federal, state and local enforcement of immigration laws.
His group supported the two former state workers who compiled and disseminated a list of 1,300 alleged undocumented immigrants, names that were gathered from Department of Workforce Services records. Cawley has stood with West Valley City Mayor Mike Winder to promote that city’s English-language training for immigrants and with former Congressman Merrill Cook in his push for a ballot initiative requiring employers to use a government program verifying a worker’s immigration status.
Mostly, Cawley has criticized. In media reports Cawley has referred to Salt Lake City Police Chief Chris Burbank as "Sanctuary Burbank" for the chief’s unwillingness to question or arrest people based solely on immigration status, blistered Attorney General Mark Shurtleff for prosecuting the two suspects in the list case and called Latino advocate Tony Yapias a "race monger."
Bonnie Cawley, who was naturalized about the time her husband found the Minuteman Project, has attended Project meetings with Cawley.
Cawley said his parents and siblings have different opinions.
"I’ve labored long and hard and they don’t have a lot of sympathy for the destruction of our country," Cawley said.
Ben Cawley, for one, said he favors immigrants assimilating and learning English, but not deportations or removals. He said people who knowingly break the law must have a rational reason for doing it.
Ben Cawley said he used to spend many Sundays watching football with his brother, but Cawley’s commitment to the Minuteman Project has consumed much of that leisure time.
"He’s a crusader," Ben Cawley said. "People that are like that are really admirable people. They get a cause and they try to advance the virtue and the cause."
While members of Cawley’s family continue to practice polygamy, St. George resident Georginia Coon of Raz-PAC — a Latino political action committee in Utah — rebuts Cawley’s claim polygamists have First Amendment protections that undocumented immigrants do not.
"Let’s not use the name of religion to commit crime," Coon said. "Polygamy is not a religion.
Cawley feels as though politicians, businesses and the media are working against him and the Minuteman Project. Those groups, Cawley said, are more interested in catering to diversity and cheap labor.
"I don’t feel like the effort to preserve our nation is succeeding," Cawley said.
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