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Hermandad Mexicana Tied to Hit Piece Painting Anaheim Councilman Jose Moreno as Anti-Immigrant

Moreno during a 2016 debate. Photo by Gabriel San Roman

A recent election mailer attacked Anaheim councilman Jose F. Moreno as wanting to resurrect one of the city’s most egregious political sins of the past. It shows Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents hauling off a young man with a school bus in the backdrop. “Jose Moreno supports putting ICE agents in the Anaheim city jail to detain and deport immigrants,” the bilingual mailer warns.

Back in the 90’s, Anaheim piloted a program that put an INS agent inside the city jail. President Bill Clinton liked it so much he signed legislation in Dec. 1997 that took the experiment nationwide to 100 other city and county jails.

More than 20 years later, the incumbent councilman is facing a bitterly contested reelection race against Mitch Caldwell, who’s supported by Disney. The back of the mailer noted that it was paid for by the Protect Local Jobs political action committee. Independent expenditure reports show a Covina address for the PAC in support of Caldwell with a handful of donors far removed from Anaheim–or so it seems!

Clearly triggered by the mailer’s laughable claims about Moreno and la migra, his campaign called for a press conference yesterday afternoon on the steps of Anaheim city hall. It proved to be an overreaction; only Univision-TV Channel 34 bothered filing a report [1], but left the question of who dunnit unanswered. Reporter Francisco Ugalde even traveled to the listed home address in Covina in vain.

But it doesn’t take much investigative skill to unravel the mystery, just basic knowledge of the political rivalries between Orange County’s Chicano activists. The $1,700 donation to the PAC on Oct. 11 is the most revealing. That’s how much Swept Off Instead, LLC chipped in from Santa Ana. A deeper look into the company registered in New Mexico shows that Xeh’la Alexis Lopez is listed as the agent for it [2]. She’s the director of Hermandad Mexicana-La Original, an immigrant rights group with an office in Santa Ana, and is the daughter of retired (but not really) OC activist Nativo Lopez.

Mystery solved. You can thank us never!

Now, back to the mailer. It has two additional claims about Moreno that the councilman shies away from addressing. It accuses him of opposing driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants while pointing to State Senator Gil Cedillo’s efforts in granting the community rights to obtain them. Before registering as a Democrat in 2014 to run for council, Moreno criticized state party leadership in a Facebook post for supporting marked driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants, stating the notion represented a “road to Nazi Germany.”

See, he didn’t support those driver’s licenses! That’s how mailers stretch truthiness time and time again.

The other claim on the controversial mailer is that Moreno opposes sanctuary for immigrants, families and children. As a candidate in 2016, Moreno vocally supported sanctuary cities at a forum reported on by the Weekly [3]. After he was elected as the lone Democrat on an otherwise all-Republican city council, Moreno had to settle for the mild salsa of making Anaheim a “Welcoming City” for all immigrants.

Hermandad Mexicana set up a PAC in 2016 and supported Moreno’s Democratic foe Jordan Brandman. Two years later, there appears to be no love lost between the two camps.

If the semi-retired Nativo Lopez helped orchestrate the bilingual mailer in any way, it clearly sent Moreno’s camp into an apoplectic fit showing the ol’ silvery-haired fox still knows how to troll.

“Jose Moreno says one thing to the Latino community, but does the exact opposite,” the mailer’s cautionary tale ends with.

The response–a Spanish-language video by Moreno and a press conference with more smartphones filming than news cameras–also suggests the council race might be close. Otherwise, why wouldn’t Moreno just tell Hermandad Mexicana: me vale!