The one that got away 

A former LULAC member lobbies against illegal immigration.

WALLIS: Former LULAC member lobbies against illegal immigration.
  • WALLIS: Former LULAC member lobbies against illegal immigration.

Kenneth Wallis was a familiar face at the Capitol this legislative session, especially during hearings on immigration. His lobbying for restrictive measures was an extension of Keep Arkansas Legal, the blog he has been updating since October 2007. (The blog's second post is a Happy Halloween greeting, featuring a photo of a man in a giant sombrero and a woman with a maple leaf on her hat. The photo caption reads, “Illegal immigrants from Mexico and Canada.”) While Keep Arkansas Legal espouses general right-wing causes — Wallis reserves a particular animus for what he calls the federal “porkulus” package — it is focused above all on illegal immigration.

Yet just five years ago, Wallis was attending UALR with financial support from LULAC, a pro-immigrant organization whose work is directly opposed to Wallis' positions.

According to documentation provided by Charles Cervantes, former LULAC Arkansas state director, the organization gave Wallis a $250 scholarship for both the 2002-2003 and 2003-2004 school years. Some of that money came from the local LULAC chapter's annual Cinco de Mayo fundraiser; the rest was given by LULAC's national organization. UALR has an arrangement with LULAC to match LULAC's scholarship money, which means that Wallis received $1,000 over two years as a result of LULAC's work.

Wallis, who is the son of a Nicaraguan immigrant, confirmed the scholarship, but he said there is no conflict between his acceptance of the money and his later work with Keep Arkansas Legal. After participating in several charity projects with LULAC at UALR, he began to feel that LULAC was not accepting of conservative viewpoints. One issue that particularly exercised him was corruption in Hispanic countries. He was rebuffed when he urged LULAC to bring more attention to the matter, he said.

“About a year into LULAC I looked into the political efforts of the organization and saw they weren't looking into corruption in Hispanic countries, particularly Mexico,” Wallis said.

“I found out that most of the leaders of LULAC are just liberals,” he continued. “It's another arm of the Democrat Party.”

“He's looking at the negative rather than the positive,” Cervantes said.

Cervantes noted that part of Wallis's scholarship was paid for by undocumented immigrants, since both citizens and non-citizens pay an entry fee to the annual Cinco de Mayo event.




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