BY JULIE BROWN, jbrown@MiamiHerald.com
A Miami-based Hispanic group is mounting a national campaign against conservative CNN talk-show host Lou Dobbs, urging the network to restrain what they call ``his disparaging and inaccurate'' remarks about Hispanic immigrants.
Jorge Mursuli, a longtime human rights activist in South Florida who now heads Democracia U.S.A., hopes to create a grassroots movement to silence Dobbs' unrelenting crusade against illegal immigrants.
Mursuli contends that Dobbs has blamed immigrants for a rise in leprosy in the United States, of pushing for a so-called ``superhighway'' of illegal immigrants from Mexico to Canada and contributing to an illegal immigrant crime wave.
``If CNN is, in fact, the most trusted name in news, we really have to ask them to hold Mr. Dobbs to journalistic standards,'' said Mursuli, whose group plans to launch an anti-Dobbs website, www.EnoughisEnough!.com.
The campaign is the latest backlash against the TV anchor. Other immigration groups have gone further, demanding the network pull him off the air for his conservative anti-immigration politics. Dobbs, whose wife is Mexican-American, is one of the network's most popular talk show hosts.
CNN spokeswoman Barbara Levin declined to comment in an e-mail to The Miami Herald. ``We'll take a pass on this,'' she wrote.
But Dan Stein, president of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), which advocates stricter U.S. immigration policies, called Lou Dobbs ``one of the most respected names in American journalism.''
He said Dobbs' critics are using rhetoric and inflammatory information in an effort to determine what ideas the public is allowed to hear.
``Organizations that try to silence public debate are enemies of freedom,'' he said. ``There has to be room for all voices in the public square.''
As part of his campaign, Mursuli said his organization asked a Miami-based polling firm to conduct interviews with 100 Hispanic people -- most of them political, business, community and congressional leaders across the nation.
He said the survey showed that 90 percent of the participants believe Dobbs is a demagogue who is using his show as a pulpit to preach hate.
``Mr. Dobbs has a right to his opinion, but he also needs to stick with the facts,'' said Mursuli, a Cuban native who has been active in gay, lesbian and other civil rights causes.
For the past four years, he has been CEO of Democracia U.S.A., one of the nation's most vocal Hispanic civic engagement, voter empowerment and leadership training groups. Since its founding in Florida in 2004, the group's efforts have expanded to Arizona, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. It has a partnership with the National Council of La Raza, the largest national Hispanic civil rights group in the country.