When It Comes to Immigration and ICE, Rispone Should Chill

    "Just wait 'til I'm governor." - Eddie Rispone

    Thursday night, a friend in Slidell posted on Facebook:

    “Today at noon, at the Louisiana/ Mississippi border, a caravan of ICE vehicles arrived in our state. At 6:30 pm, I drove by to assess the situation and they were no longer there.

    “The ICE raids were delayed because of Hurricane Barry. The arrival of the paddy wagons, signifies the reign of terror that is about to hit our area in force. This is All American Tyranny y’all. True patriotism is standing up to tyranny. If you ever wondered what you would have done in Nazi Germany, or in the slave trade era of our America, you’re doing it now.

    “If you can embrace a fascist, tyrannical, theocratic, pile of billionaires bankrupting this country for gluttonous power, personal gain, and unimaginable wealth… you’re not an American at all.”

    Friday morning, subscribers to the Times-Picayune were greeted with this full-page ad:

    Having long believed you can learn a lot about a person – including political candidates – by taking time to analyze the words they choose to use, let us break down that message from Eddie Rispone, mindful of the fact that he is a multi-millionaire who has – so far – had to contribute $10 million of his own money in order to have enough to fund his campaign for governor.

    He addresses “the radical leftists” who “enjoy protesting,” and insists “DONALD TRUMP IS RIGHT.”

    Here’s a picture of some of those “leftist” folks attending the “Lights for Liberty” vigil at the state Capitol in Baton Rouge Friday night, where one of the first speakers was Rev. Nathan Ryan, pastor of the Unitarian Church in Baton Rouge.

    He said, “My family are some of the people who put Trump in office. And while we can come out here all day and protest, unless we have the courage to talk to our families about this, it won’t change.”

    Radical, isn’t it? “Talk to our families.” Just imagine that…

    Then again, talking to our families, reasoning with people and building agreement with them is a far cry from the tone of the rest of Rispone’s juvenile rant, the bulk of which can be summed up as, “Just wait till I’m governor. I’ll show you!”

    Or as @LindaKocher3 described it on Twitter, “He’s so junior high, isn’t he?”

    Rispone says when he is governor, “Louisiana will stand with President Trump to protect ICE, build the wall, and end illegal immigration.”

    “Protect ICE” is the Trump 2020 slogan. For just $13.00 (plus shipping and handling), you can buy a yard sign from trumpstoreamerica.com. “Protect ICE” tshirts start at $28, and the black hats (red ones are sooo 2016) are $33.

    When Eddie says we’ll “build the wall,” perhaps he’s thinking of a seawall. After all, the only part of Mexico that Louisiana touches is the Gulf of Mexico, and considering our state’s continuing fight against coastal land loss, a seawall is a good and useful idea. Yet I doubt that’s what he meant.

    And while we might hope Rispone would take up the cause of ending Louisiana out-migration, his espousal of belief that as governor of a state he could “end illegal immigration” is entirely in keeping with the current legal theories on jurisdictional responsibility over immigration being promoted by the ultra-right.

    For example, the Cato Institute, a conservative think-tank that when founded in 1974 was originally named the Charles Koch Foundation, is pushing the idea that since the U.S. Constitution doesn’t enumerate oversight of immigration as a power of the federal government or any of its branches, then the Tenth Amendment must apply: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

    Photo courtesy: Voice of America

    These sophists, who presently advocate for privatizing many facets of government, cite the early days of our nation, pre-Civil War, when “many states enacted laws aimed a preventing a variety of populations from entering the borders of their states,” and then go on to lament that “since the late 19th century, the U.S. Supreme Court has consistently backed the federal immigration regulations against constitutional challenges.”

    Those lines of thinking are consistent with Rispone’s personal history of involvement with the St. George movement in the Baton Rouge area, and its subliminal purpose.

    Eddie promises his governorship will end New Orleans’ status as a “sanctuary city.” Unlike certain cities and counties that have pro-actively passed local laws to welcome refugees and asylum seekers by limiting co-operation with ICE, New Orleans is only regarded as such because of a 2012 consent decree between the U.S. Department of Justice and the NOPD.

    Due to previous patterns of civil rights violations, it prohibits local police from inquiring about residency status. And if they can’t ask about immigration status, then NOPD certainly can’t share that information with ICE.

    But hey, why let what is essentially a federal court order get in the way of vilifying the state’s top tourism draw, right? Waving that red herring flag has worked so well for state Attorney General Jeff Landry.

    Credit: Youtube

    Rispone’s vow about other flags, not to tolerate raising the Mexican flag instead of the American flag at governmental buildings, is not alluding to anything that happened in Louisiana. It is a reference to an incident outside the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) offices in Aurora, Colorado. On Friday, July 12, dozens of protesters lowered the U.S. flag flying outside the building, and raised Mexico’s flag on the pole instead.

    “When I’m governor, we won’t put up with ANTIFA lawlessness,” Rispone’s ad declares. In this case, he is likely referring to violence that erupted in Portland, Oregon the end of June. Separate demonstrations held by groups from the left and right of the political spectrum erupted in violence when they met up.

    Highly hyped by FoxNews, was a clash between the Proud Boys (described as a “far-right neo-fascist organization which admits only men and promotes political violence”) and what they termed ANTIFA (originally a contraction of “anti-fascist,” the term refers to legitimately organized left-leaning protest groups, primarily located in Oregon, but has also become an epithet conservative media uses for those who self-describe as “Progressives” here in Louisiana.)

    Screenshot of Ngo’s tweet one day prior to the June 29, 2019 incident in Portland where he was allegedly roughed-up by ANTIFA protesters.

    Andy Ngo, a conservative freelance writer who tweeted “Antifa promises violence” days before the incident, was injured during the protests, and his “victimization” gave him Warhol’s promised 15-minutes of fame. FoxNews has embraced him and President Trump has publicly condemned the attack twice. Yet as Joseph Bernstein with BuzzFeedNews observed this week, the new darling of the right-wing media has built “his literal brand on the premise that anti-fascists are violent and loathe him.”

    You can’t really blame Rispone for buying into this particular engineered controversy. Just look Ngo’s role model, James O’Keefe, and how many otherwise discerning politicians fell for – and acted upon – O’Keefe’s manipulatively-edited “exposes” of ACORN and an NPR executive.

    Most of us in Louisiana wised up to O’Keefe’s tactics and utter lack of trustworthiness after his 2010 felony arrest in New Orleans. He and three others, dressed as telephone repairmen, were attempting to bug the phone lines at U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu’s office in the Hale Boggs Federal Building. O’Keefe pled guilty to reduced charges, was sentenced to three years’ probation, 100 hours of community service, and required to pay a $1500 fine.

    Rispone’s Times-Picayune ad has now built its hyperbole to its bombastic maximum, pledging, “When I’m governor, we will crack down – HARD – on every single criminal illegal and terrorist gang.”

    Stop for a moment and consider that this candidate for governor is promising bone-breaking violence – rather than civilized enactment of justice in a court of law – against those he has branded and prejudged to be criminals, illegals, and terrorists.

    “So enjoy your protests,” he says, “Because when I’m sworn in…” Although it does not say so explicitly, this is an implied continuation of the threat to “crack down” – in this case, on First Amendment rights to free assembly and free speech.

    Photo courtesy ICE

    That sentence in the ad goes on to say, “We’re getting tough on illegal immigration the second my hand comes off the Bible.” Perhaps Mr. Rispone should open that Bible between now and then, and meditate on some of the many verses pertaining to immigrants and strangers. For example, he might consider Psalm 146:9, which says, “The Lord watches over the foreigner” (NIV). Or ponder Malachi 3:5, that states, “‘I will come to put you on trial. I will be quick to testify against those who…defraud laborers of their wages…and deprive the foreigners among you of justice,’ says the Lord Almighty” (NIV).

    There is also Matthew 25:31-46, wherein Jesus promises “eternal fire” and states “you are cursed” when, “I was a stranger and you did not invite me in,” (NIV). The passage goes on to state that what you do for or against any person is as if you were doing it for or against the Lord Himself.

    “Crack down – HARD.”

    “Get tough.”

    “Whatever you do for one of the least of these, you do for me.”

    Rispone’s immigration manifesto concludes with a pair of blatant lies, saying, “Remember, John Bel Edwards is the reason New Orleans is a sanctuary city. With your vote, together, we can change that.”

    As explained earlier, New Orleans is designated a “sanctuary city” because of a 2012 consent decree with the USDOJ. In 2012, Bobby Jindal was governor, and John Bel Edwards, from Amite in Tangipahoa Parish – not from New Orleans, was one of 105 members of the Louisiana House of Representatives. It was a federal court order prompted by unconstitutional acts perpetrated by New Orleans police. It had nothing to do with the state Legislature where Edwards served, and nothing to do with his current governorship.

    And neither Eddie Rispone nor your vote can undo the consent decree, nor alter that history or those facts.

    Previous articleRunning Away from His Values
    Next articleWill the Saints extend Michael Thomas?
    Sue Lincoln
    Sue Lincoln is a veteran and widely-respected reporter who has been covering Louisiana politics for nearly three decades. Originally from Long Beach, California, Sue’s career in journalism began on the radio in Los Angeles. After moving to Louisiana, Sue earned her bachelor’s degree. For ten years, from 2000-2010, she was the Assistant News Director at Louisiana Network. Sue also worked as the education reporter for Louisiana Public Broadcasting and has contributed to various state publications as a freelance journalist. But she is perhaps best known as the voice of the popular politics Capitol Access.