Warrior against illegals lives, breathes the issue
By Carlos Campos, Atlanta Journal Constitution, March 27, 2006
Cobb man quit job to become full-time activist
Carlos Campos - Staff
Monday, March 27, 2006
CORRECTION: 03/29/06, Page A/02: An article in Monday's Metro section about activist D.A. King should have said that The Dustin Inman Society is an anti-illegal immigration group. The organization is not opposed to legal immigration.
Whether on the streets or in the halls of the Georgia Capitol, fighting illegal immigration is a way of life for D.A. King.
The 53-year-old Cobb County man quit his job selling medical insurance three years ago to become a self-educated activist against illegal immigration. Dismissed as a fringe figure by critics, King has forced his way into an influential role in this year's debate over a legislative crackdown on illegals.
King's style is straightforward, even confrontational. At a rally in 2004 at which illegal immigrants protested in favor of being issued driver's licenses, King --- a 6-foot-2, 220-pound Marine Corps veteran --- waded through the crowd holding up his own license, taunting demonstrators.
"You are criminals!" King shouted. "You cannot have my country!"
Critics say King uses angry rhetoric to stir up passions. One legislator asked King in a public meeting if he considered himself a supremacist.
But King's allies see him as a smart, articulate and tireless warrior for their cause.
"D.A. probably knows more about this issue than any person in the Southeast," said Sen. Chip Rogers (R-Woodstock), sponsor of the Georgia Security and Immigration Compliance Act, which is nearing final passage in the Legislature. "He's been a very helpful information source. And I've never had anything he's given me turn out not to be true."
King said he was drawn into the debate when a Mexican family moved across the street from his home in 1997. King said eventually, up to 20 people were living in the home and multiple cars and loud parties became commonplace. King called federal immigration authorities. He was shocked that federal officials ignored his complaints.
Sen. Sam Zamarripa (D-Atlanta), who has been criticized by King for supporting illegal immigrants, said he understands the frustration many Americans feel toward the issue.
"Ultimately, they're discussing economics, costs, taxes, policy related to immigration," Zamarripa said. "But that's not what D.A. King discusses. D.A. King has a language system that bumps up against hostility, anger, and that's a very dangerous way to approach a discussion that's loaded with sensitivities."
King has spent much of this year working in Capitol hallways and committee rooms advising Rogers on his proposal, Senate Bill 529. King also testified several times on the bill, which would deny many public benefits to illegal immigrants and require employers to verify that their workers are in the country legally if they want to claim them as a business tax deduction.
When King testified before the Senate Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee, Sen. Steen Miles (D-Decatur) asked if he considered himself a supremacist. King told Miles he simply wants the federal government to enforce its immigration laws.
"I don't know the gentleman," Miles said in an interview later. "But the information that I have read from his Web site ... tends to point in that direction."
King believes the federal government should secure its borders to make sure no one crosses into this country illegally. He believes federal authorities should conduct periodic raids of businesses that employ illegal immigrants. Those businesses should be punished, and the illegal immigrants should be deported in accordance with existing laws, he says.
Over time, King reasons, businesses will stop hiring illegal immigrants and the workers will realize there are no jobs in the United States.
King said he realizes there would be a dramatic impact on the economy if all illegal immigrants were deported immediately, so he advocates a slow deportation. He believes American companies would adjust and start paying competitive wages and hiring legal residents, even if it means increased costs.
Last year, King founded an anti-immigration group called the Dustin Inman Society, named for the 16-year-old son of a friend killed in a hit-and-run car crash involving an illegal immigrant.
"I commend him greatly," said Billy Inman of Woodstock, Dustin's father. "The problem overwhelmed him and really bothered him. He don't want to see no other kids done this way. Or nobody. 'Cause it's not right."
King writes regular columns posted on Web sites and published in the Marietta Daily Journal. King often writes about the fear of "Georgiafornia," a takeoff of the anti-illegal immigration name for California, "Mexifornia." After attending a rally in support of illegal immigrants, he wrote in one column, "My first act on a safe return home was to take a shower."
King is a regular contributor to VDARE.com. The Southern Poverty Law Center in Montgomery, a civil rights organization that tracks hate groups, has dubbed VDARE.com a "hate Web site," and noted King's activities in a report on anti-immigrant activity in Georgia.
In response, King said the center "ran out of ... nutball Klanners to go after" but needed to keep donations flowing, so its founder "turned his head towards people who insist that our immigration laws be enforced and that our borders be secured." King noted the center has been criticized by other human rights advocates for questionable fund-raising tactics.
Zamarripa said he believes King is a shadowy "agent." A September report, put together by several organizations including the Zamarripa-chaired Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials, details associations between King and groups such as the Federation for American Immigration Reform, Center for Immigration Studies and American Patrol.
"These organizations are not white supremacists with the sort of old-fashioned Ku Klux Klan model," Zamarripa said in an interview. "But these organizations walk a very fine line in getting close to organizations that, historically, I associate with intolerance and bigotry."
King contends that charges of racism against him are a desperate act to silence people who are vocal about illegal immigration.
"I say that illegal immigration is wrong, it's bad for my country and I try to stop it," he said. "Here comes the only weapon that they can use. They cannot use the law, they cannot use any facts, they can't back up their argument with anything other then their last line of defense, which is charges of some kind of un-Americanism."
King regularly organizes rallies and has shown up at day labor sites where illegal immigrants wait for work; he takes pictures and asks the men if they are in the country legally. He has complained to companies that allow Spanish as a customer service option.
King acknowledges his aggressive style.
"That is by design. I try very hard to plainly say we have a problem, it will get worse, and here's what it is," King said. "I have watched people sit around the elephant in the living room and talk about the wallpaper."
In 1977, King was convicted on federal gambling charges and sentenced to two years on probation and a fine, according to documents he provided to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. King said he had worked as a bookie in Alabama for more than two years and got caught in interstate betting on sports.
He said getting punished by the feds is not his motivation for urging the government to enforce immigration laws.
"I violated the law and I deserved to be punished and I was," King said. "But my whole life I had been taught that I am no better or no worse than anyone else. And I cannot accept the fact that there are well-connected wealthy, campaign-donating people who are profiting from federal crime and are not being punished."
King insists he's "just a guy" who would rather be cooking, savoring his wine collection and enjoying the company of his wife of nearly 24 years, Sue.
The price of activism has been high, King said. He said he's blown through his savings and his grandmother's inheritance and maxed out eight credit cards. King said he's not sure how he will make his mortgage payment in May.
Fighting illegal immigration was not part of his plan. He and his wife had planned to buy a home in Sarasota, Fla. Sue was supposed to stop working as a travel agent, and he was supposed to sell insurance part-time.
But the fight has, however, become what King believes is his duty.
"A lot of people are quite willing to sit and assume that somebody else is going to fix it. I never would've guessed that I was the somebody --- in my wildest dreams."
DONALD ARTHUR "D.A." KING
> Age: 53
> Lives in: Cobb County, near Marietta
> Quit his job in 2003 to work full time as an activist against illegal immigration.
> Former independent insurance agent and U.S. Marine Corps corporal
> Founder, the Dustin Inman Society, the American Resistance (anti-illegal immigration groups)
> Birthplace: Rapid City, S.D.
> Reared in: Montgomery, northern Michigan and the suburbs of Detroit
> Family: Wife, Sue, married more than 23 years
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