The Ku Klux Klan in South Carolina is using the nation’s current illegal immigration crisis as a recruiting tool, leaving bags of candy on driveways with notes urging people to “Save our land, join the Klan.”
Residents in northwestern South Carolina say they found bags of candy on their street containing a piece of paper asking them to join the Ku Klux Klan. The paper not only had the slogan but also included a phone number that led to an automated message discussing KKK efforts against illegal immigration.
When someone dials the "Klan Hotline" printed on the paper, according to FOX Carolina, a voicemail message picks up saying: "Be a man, join the Klan! Illegal immigration is destroying America." Then it addresses immigration concerns and ends with, "Always remember: if it ain't white, it ain't right. White power."
This tactic by the KKK isn't anything new and the group has been capitalizing on the immigration debate since 2000, according to Mark Pallok, Senior Fellow of the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC). Between 2000 and 2008, he told Fox News Latino, hate groups have very largely based on their rhetoric on illegal immigration.
"It's pure opportunism," he said in a telephone interview with FNL. "They spun it as a racial issue. The groups were fairly successful and they did grow based on their exploitation of illegal immigration."
The Loyal White Knights and the Traditionalist American Knights of the KKK have been mostly responsible for the pamphlets showing up around the country since March. According to Pallok, the SPLC has received reports of similar pamphlets all over the midwest and in Pennsylvania, West Virgina, Texas and the Carolinas.
He said rhetoric against black, Jewish and gay people aren't resonating for the Klan, and despite the Klan's relative success using immigration as a recruitment tool, participation on the KKK continues to go down. In 2010 there were 221 KKK chapters. That number dropped to 163 in 2013.
"What we estimate is those chapters represent between 4,000 and 6,000 Klansmen in the United States today," Pallok explained. "At the height of the civil rights movement in 1960s, there were about 40,000."
In Seneca, South Carolina, Robert Jones – who describes himself as the imperial klaliff of the Loyal White Knights – told WHNS-TV that the effort there was part of a recruiting event they hold three times a year.
Jones said that the hotline has gotten around 20,000 calls a day and many people are interested in joining his cause.
Residents in an Oconee County subdivision found the bags Saturday night and Sunday morning.
According to Jones, chapters across the country drop the literature overnight and members don't target homes for their "national night ride."
"I mean, we can't tell who lives in a house, whether they're black, white, Mexican, gay, we can't tell that," he said. "And if you were to look at somebody's house like that, that means you'd be pretty much a racist."
In response to a private Ku Klux Klan rally later in July, various groups have planned a Unity Rally Against Hatred in Greenville, South Carolina to be held on Saturday, July 26.
For more from WHTS go to FOXCarolina.com.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.