In spite of its cold winters, the state of Massachusetts has been very attractive to Brazilian immigrants, who now form one of the largest and most vibrant expat Brazilian groups (second only to Florida), where they have established businesses like restaurants, bakeries, language schools and capoeira centers.
Among the various Massachusetts cities where you can find a strong Brazilian presence is the township of Framingham, which is located roughly 20 miles from Boston. According to an article published by Southern Poverty Law Center in 2008, Brazilians make up about 20 percent of its 67,000 population.
There are some people from Framingham, however, who are not too happy about this. Among them are twin brothers Jim and Joe Rizoli, two anti-immigration advocates who have used media outlets like a cable TV show and the Internet to discuss their views on illegal immigration and other issues they believe in.
The Rizolis lead a group called Concerned Friends of Illegal Immigration Law Enforcement, (CCFIILE). Like many conservative activists in Arizona, Georgia and many other border states, they oppose any program that benefits newcomers to the country – especially Brazilians, who they seem to have a special dislike of.
I first noticed the Rizolis’ activities via their YouTube postings a few months ago. Though I completely disagree with their reactionary ideas and points of view (which are more in tune with Tea Party Republicans), I invited them for a chat so they could speak their minds.
Over the first week of January, Jim Rizoli and I exchanged numerous email messages, which were compiled in a natural order in the lines below.
I have seen the various posts about your activism in Framingham, but you seem to have a particular dislike of Brazilian immigrants. If that is correct, why is it so?
The Brazilians and other illegal immigrants have done a lot of bad things in the town, why would I like that? They use false documents, drive without licenses and insurance, don’t pay their mortgages, or credit cards. They send most of their money back home. They fill the schools up with the kids, and get free busing, free lunches, free health care, while the American citizens have to struggle and pay for the exact same services.
So why I should like that? Why don’t the Brazilians give something back for their being here? Why do we have to support them, so they can make a lot of money and in a few years go back home while leaving us their bills. Let’s not forget most of the home foreclosures in our state are because of illegal immigrants, which have cost us millions of dollars in tax money.
A lot of conservatives talk a lot about the immigration crisis in the US, but few offer plausible solutions… there is no way that law enforcement can deport 11 million undocumented aliens here without disrupting local economies and separating families who have been here for so long that their kids – many babies when they arrived – are now facing dire consequences. The Dream act would fix things for them, but Congress keeps rejecting it… What is your take on that?
Too bad! They should be deported kids and all. Do these people even want to be part of the Dream Act? I say no. They are here to leech of the system and they don’t want to contribute, just take. 62 % of the immigrants that you think are eligible aren’t even eligible for the Dream Act. They can’t even fulfill their obligations to be part of it. So why should we give them any breaks on this one.
You say they should be deported… but as I said that is a Tea Party wet dream that could never be enforced in the real world . How do you suggest law enforcement to do so?
President Eisenhower had no problem doing it back in the 50’s. http://www.newswithviews.com/Ryter/jon311.htm
If you ran for office and were elected, what would your community benefit from that except for having a voice against illegal immigration?
I would work along with the Brazilian community just fine, but won’t allow for their lawless ways to continue. They are most welcomed here but if you’re going to live here you have to obey the laws.
You mention lawless ways… Can you be more specific? I saw a video of you during a Brazilian soccer celebration and you almost got yourself arrested… the police officer demanded you not to touch him… and witnesses have reported that they did not attempt to assault you…
The police officer was way out of line and actually apologized to us later for his actions at the police station, which you obviously know nothing about. You might want to watch the videos more closely….the Brazilians are not good company to be in when filming; they have caused us much aggravation. They at times have assaulted us and should have been arrested, but the cops are as corrupt as them. The cops here are starting to act like the Brazilian cops…..not a nice way to act.
Would you be ‘nice’ to anyone known to be hostile to you if you were filming them, even if it is in a public space? I mean, say a Brazilian journalist did the same you have been doing with the intention of shedding a negative light to you
I’m nice to everyone……and would welcome you, as long as you behave yourself. Why some Brazilians act like animals is beyond me.
Many anti-immigration advocates say that aliens are ‘changing our way of life.’ However, this country has always been open to change. Your last name is “Rizoli,’ which is Italian. Italian-Americans have contributed a lot to the American landscape — just look at all the pizza places everywhere (I know, it’s a simplistic example)… What is wrong with other cultures contributing to the melting pot in their own way?
The Brazilians are not here for the long haul. You know it and I know it. Most are here for a short time to make a lot of money at our expense them return home. Please explain how such a short time life here benefits us? My grandparents made a life here, and contributed to the cost of their living here. The Brazilians and all the other illegal aliens aren’t. They believe in making the fast buck and getting out of Dodge.
Sure, many immigrants come to this country with plans to return, but from my experience many of the Brazilians you are so critical of have opened businesses in the country, are paying taxes and a great majority have become US citizens. You seem to generalize all immigrants on the same level… what do you have to say about that?
They have open up business illegally! They don’t have permission from the U.S. government to work here. They have broken the terms of their Visas if they even have one. They are lawbreakers, period! Could I work in their country if I came in illegally? There are strict laws to opening a business here and they have violated the terms. They should be jailed.
Opened businesses illegally? You mean the Padaria Brasil – which is a legal establishment working in your town, or several other businesses operating legally throughout the country were opened illegally? In the US, if you have the means to come here and open a business, you are welcome to do it… nothing illegal about that – the same if you wanted to travel to Brazil to start your own business.
I have no problem with the legal businesses, but most of them are not legal in the true sense of the word. So how long do we pay for your people being here with no help from them? You’re going to bankrupt us…..You don’t even respond to who most of the foreclosures belong to. Again your people are putting this country over the edge and you don’t even see it being a problem.
It’s not about my view, I am questioning yours… You clearly say that businesses are here illegally, and when I point out a legal business you back off…
I’m not talking about the Padaria. There are plenty of others that are working illegally. Visa requirements have strict limitations. If you have a tourist Visa you can’t work here. Don’t you even know the LAW?
According to the latest census, Framingham is now well over 10 percent Latino… do you have an issue with that – which the white populace is declining due to that?
The troubling thing about it is the Latinos are costing the other 90% a lot of money. A lot of the Latinos and especially the Brazilians (80-90%) are illegal here. They are having more children than the citizens here. If the trend continues out State and Town will go bankrupt. We can’t continue to pay for the welfare of these people without drastic consequences.
Those Latino children will, however, grow up legal citizens of this country. Is it fair to assume that they will be filling the rolls of welfare?
Hopefully they become productive citizens and not live off the welfare rolls.
Final question: As you might have been following in the news, Brazil’s economy has been growing drastically and this has motivated many to return. Also, tourism from the country has increased a lot – and the vast majority of Brazilian travelers are no longer overstaying their visas… Do you feel these winds of change in your community?
Yes….Things have quieted down here quite a bit. The problem now is the criminal illegals coming here. The druggies, the real scum of the earth, type, etc….They prey upon the other illegals, and the general public. They have no conscience. They have the Favela mentality. The Brazilians in the past might have been bad in their own way but not as bad as the new crop of illegals coming here now.
Ernest Barteldes is a freelance writer based on Staten Island, New York. He can be reached at email@example.com. The original title of this article was “Jim Rizoli: An Anti-Immigration Activist in the Crossroads of History”