If Temecula were a state, given the attention it is drawing lately, it could well be Arizona, albeit with wineries. In mid-July, the city drew clashing protesters when it adopted an anti-illegal immigration ordinance requiring businesses with more than one employee to screen workers using E-Verify, an otherwise voluntary online program provided by the federal government that allows employers to screen for immigration status and check Social Security numbers. It became the third city in the inland region, along with Lake Elsinore and Menifee, to adopt an E-verify policy as the region embraces anti-illegal immigration measures.
During a small protest that took place there this afternoon, however, the anger was not over undocumented immigrants or the rule of law, but over Muslims. In particular, those building a planned new Islamic mosque and cultural center near a Baptist church.
Opponents have said they are concerned about the size of the mosque and its environmental impact, but some protesters today made it clear that's not all. In a story by Steven Cuevas on 89.3 KPCC, one protester was quoted as saying, "I don't care for their religion, I don't care for their politics and I do not want them here just like I do not want the illegal Hispanic people here, I don't want 'em."
The protest took place outside the Islamic Center of the Temecula Valley, which is building the planned mosque seven miles from the center's current location. Plans are to complete it by the end of next year.