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City is site of immigration protest

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Clad in a United States flag tee shirt, Steve Iseman of Caroline County waves to supporters during the National Day of Protesting Against Immigration Reform Amnesty & Border Surge on the Cowan Boulevard overpass in Fredericksburg on Saturday, July 19, 2014. With Iseman is Joe Gallardo of Houston, TX. (PETER CIHELKA / THE FREE LANCE-STAR)

Clad in a United States flag tee shirt, Steve Iseman of Caroline County waves to supporters during the National Day of Protesting Against Immigration Reform Amnesty & Border Surge on the Cowan Boulevard overpass in Fredericksburg on Saturday, July 19, 2014. With Iseman is Joe Gallardo of Houston, TX. (PETER CIHELKA / THE FREE LANCE-STAR)

Erin Quinlan unpacked posters and flags Saturday on the Cowan Boulevard bridge over Interstate 95 to protest the influx of illegal immigrants, many of them unaccompanied children.

The Spotsylvania County man was taking part in the National Day of Protesting Against Immigration Reform Amnesty & Border Surge.

Quinlan waved an American flag and pumped his fist above motorists speeding toward Washington. Some people honked.

He put up bed sheets with the phrase “Enforce Border Laws” written large enough in black paint to be read from the interstate.

“This isn’t a Democrat issue or a Republic issue,” he said. “It’s an America issue. What’s going on in Texas is a clear danger to America. I hope people become aware and write their representatives.”

The local group, which consisted of about 15 people at its peak Saturday, was organized by conservative protest group Overpasses For America member Steve Iseman of Caroline County.

Iseman said he wanted people to know “that Obama is not following laws. He’s not protecting or defending the U.S. For every illegal alien coming over the border he’s breaking the law.”

Erin Quinlan of Spotsylvania takes his visor off to northbound I-95 travelers as he participates in the National Day of Protesting Against Immigration Reform Amnesty & Border Surge on the Cowan Boulevard overpass in Fredericksburg on Saturday, July 19, 2014. (PETER CIHELKA / THE FREE LANCE-STAR)

Erin Quinlan of Spotsylvania takes his visor off to northbound I-95 travelers as he participates in the National Day of Protesting Against Immigration Reform Amnesty & Border Surge on the Cowan Boulevard overpass in Fredericksburg on Saturday, July 19, 2014. (PETER CIHELKA / THE FREE LANCE-STAR)

Iseman brought a host of signs to the rally, including those that read, “Honk to Impeach Obama” and “ LIAR TRAITOR.”

He organized the group through social media and fliers. One flier read, “Our Border Patrol is overwhelmed by the massive flow of illegal aliens crossing our border daily. Illegal aliens with communicable diseases and conditions such as tuberculosis, scabies, and head lice are entering our country unabated. There is a very real security risk to Americans from drug cartels, gang members, and terrorists—all of whom can cross our border with no resistance. Adding insult to injury, American taxpayers are being forced to pay for transportation, housing, schooling, legal assistance, and more for the illegals.”

Another protester, Nora Eldridge of Spotsylvania, called current immigration issues “an engineered crisis.”

Eldridge is a member of the local tea party group Fredericksburg Patriots.

Wearing a shirt emblazoned with a Ronald Reagan quote, she held a sign that read “Close the Border.”

“What’s happening is wrong,” she said. “They are going to overwhelm our system and are bringing health problems with them. Some of these older kids are in gangs. Obama is turning us into a socialist country run by a dictator.”

Protester Phil Webber of Fredericksburg felt similarly about the issue.

“I’m just an average American citizen concerned about the well-being of my country,” he said, while holding a sign that read “No Amnesty.”

“I hope people see this and those who feel the same know they’re not alone,” he said.

The protest was one of hundreds around the country Friday and Saturday. It was one of 12 in Virginia. Others occurred in Springfield, Richmond, Roanoke, Lynchburg, Winchester and Virginia Beach.

Sue Smith, director of local Latino service nonprofit organization LUCHA, said the protest gave her safety concerns. A fundraiser was taking place the same day on Warrenton Road for the area’s first Latina Girl Scout troop.

“I think immigrants add a lot to our community,” she said. “And the voices of anti-immigration supporters are a lot louder and get a lot more press because of that.”

She cited Latino parents in the area who are active in Head Start programs and volunteer time with community organizations.

“For Latino kids, this [protest] is a very sad picture of who we are as a community,” she said. “Older kids, for them to see this ugly rally, it hurts their self-esteem; they don’t want to be noticed and withdraw.”

Lindley Estes: 540/735-1976

lestes@freelancestar.com

 

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