A San Diego business owner said his family has become the target of death threats after they decided to house an undocumented immigrant family from Guatemala.
"You're a race traitor, you're a traitor to your country, we're going to kill you, we're going to kill your family, we're coming down there,” Mark Lane said, quoting phone calls, text messages and Facebook posts threatening him and his family.
Lane has had a hard time sleeping after the threats started pouring in on July 29, two weeks after his family voluntarily took in a Guatemalan mother, her two teenage sons and her 23-year-old daughter through the organization Border Angels.
The family wanted to escape threats from gangs trying to recruit the boys, they told Lane.
“They took the girl and gang raped her as a mechanism to get them, to get the boys to join. That's when they decided they have to leave,” said Lane. The family is now waiting for their case to be heard in court to find out if they must return.
Lane made the decision to house the family after watching the Murrieta protesters last month who forced three busloads of undocumented immigrants ready for Border Patrol processing to turn away from their city.
The father said his 5-year-old son asked him why people were mad at the buses, and the question and hatred he saw triggered something in him to take action in the immigration crisis.
He even helped launch a Facebook campaign to boycott Murrieta, he told MSNBC’s Ari Melber. However, the tactic backfired when opponents set up a Facebook page of their own to boycott Lane’s shop, Poppa’s Fresh Fish Company in Logan Heights.
But with the backlash has come a strong show of support. Lane started receiving encouraging phone calls, orders for fish and donations from patrons across the country.
On Saturday, first-time customers trickled in for more than the fish tacos.
“I just believe in supporting people like this because I find it ridiculous that people are harassing him and bugging him for doing a good deed,” said customer Elaine Allen during her first visit.
“There are so many people out there that are against what he's doing, and facing threats against him and his family is ridiculous,” said another first-timer Rosalba Barragan. “That's not what good human beings do. We support one another; we help one another."
Others told NBC 7 they disagreed with Lane’s stance, though they did not use threats. The San Diego Tea Party released the following statement:
“Our members are staunch constitutionalists who believe in the rule of law. When our president decides not to enforce laws that best fit his political needs he breaks the sacred oath he gave us and neglects to do right by his people. The issue with the store owner, and whether or not to boycott is a personal decision one must make. If our leaders on the left and right actually wanted to fix this problem, they would just enforce the laws on the books. At that point the store owner would not be so bold as to break our laws in the first place.”
Despite the controversy, Lane said the threats against him have only strengthened his resolve to do something. He is preparing to launch his own nonprofit this week, dedicated to helping undocumented families and the Americans who choose to take them in.
“We were lucky enough to be born here,” said Lane. “That doesn't make us better than anybody. We have people fleeing violence. We need to take them in and give them shelter, and that's what we've always done since we were a country.”