By Pablo Jaime Sainz
“You only need to look south to see how vulnerable we are... Shots have already been fired in Texas from the Mexican side of the border. These thugs must be dealt with forcefully. The border has become a war zone...”
“Shooters at the border end up on our streets shooting kids.”
“We must secure our border. I think the completion of the triple border fence is critical. We’re working with the Department of Homeland Security to get them the land they need. I say build it all the way to Texas!”
If you think the quotes above, taken from the State of the County Address 2006, delivered by Chairman Supervisor Bill Horn on February 7, are racist, you’re not alone.
At a South Bay Forum meeting that took place on Monday, March 13, Supervisor Greg Cox said: “I can’t explain why Bill Horn said what he said... But I honestly don’t think he’s a racist.”
Cox, who represents the County’s District, which has an estimated Hispanic population of 50%, was at the meeting to respond to Horn’s speech.
At the beginning of the meeting with Cox, South Bay Forum President Norma Cazarez said that the forum found Horn’s remarks insulting and anti-Mejicano.
“We were very insulted,” she said. “I think his purpose was to instill fear into folks who are already concerned with the browning of their communities.”
In his speech, Horn linked illegal immigration to gang activity in San Diego County. This was unnecesary, Cazarez said.
“The so-called address failed to address more important and real issues, such as health, affordable housing, education...,” she said.
When Cox’s turn to talk came up, he began by separating himself from Horn’s speech.
He said that each year a board member becomes chairman of the board and delivers the State of the County. Cox said that each chairman chooses what he or she wants to emphasize in that speech. He said that the speech doesn’t represent the opinions of the rest of the board of supervisors.
“I’m not going to be here to try to explain what he [Horn] said. Bill Born is Bill Horn,” Cox said. “He set up his personal agenda this year. It [the speech] doesn’t mean anything. He needs three votes for issues to pass. Bill Horn focused on illegal immigration in his address. I can’t explain why Bill Horn said what he said. I’ve worked with him for years, and I don’t think he’s a racist.”
These comments created a strong reaction from community members who attended the meeting.
Herman Baca, of the CCR, quoted Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.: “We will not remember the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”
Baca also said that Cox and the other Supervisors failed the Latino community of San Diego County.
“There’s anger in this community,” Baca said. “Immigration and border security doesn’t fall into realm of the Board of Supervisors.”
Baca said that Horn’s comments on gang violence and illegal immigrants were incorrect.
“Horn implied that only Mexicans are criminals. But there are also criminals in the Anglo community, in the black community. But there are good people in all of these communities.”
Addressing Cox, Baca said: “Horn, Supervisor Jacobs, even you, have better become concerned for your constituencies of Mexican descent.”
Cox replied: “I will be responsible for what I say and do. I think Horn had some valid concerns, but I don’t think he labeled them as I would. I will be glad to share your sentiments with Supervisor Horn, but I honestly don’t think he’s a racist.”
Cox went on to say that “as far as my position in this topic, I’m in favor of a comprehensive bill and definitely I’m in favor of a guest-worker program. What’s the answer? I don’t know. I’m not a supporter of the triple fence. I support border security, but a triple fence is not the answer. We can never lose sight that our economy is dependent on a good relationship between the two countries (U.S. and Mexico).”