Project 21 New Visions

Charles Butler

Black "Leaders" Desert Blacks for Illegal Aliens


by Charles Butler (bio)

 

Self-appointed and media-approved members of the black "leadership" in America appear either silent or openly supportive when it comes to rewarding the actions of illegal immigrants.

This is in direct contrast to how the civil rights establishment, black and otherwise, operated in the past.

Past generations of civil rights leaders appeared to understand the negative effects of illegal immigration on their constituents and communities. Their words and actions helped protect the gains of working-class Americans in contrast to their successors' calls for amnesty and open borders.

For example, Cesar Chavez, the Hispanic labor advocate lionized by the left, advocated for strict Immigration and Naturalization Service enforcement for the protection of his legal unionized laborers. Clarence Jones, a former advisor to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., wrote in his book What Would Martin Say? that he believes King would similarly oppose illegal immigration due to the economic effects an influx of illegal laborers might have on black Americans and their economic security. Barbara Jordan, the first black woman to serve in Congress from the south, testified before Congress on immigration policy in 1995 that an effective policy would find that "those who should not be here will be required to leave."

With black unemployment officially at 15.5 percent in November of 2011 (and likely much higher considering so many no longer look for work) and an astronomical 39.6 percent for black teenagers, illegal immigrant jobseekers can place a particular strain on the black community.

Yet today's black leadership remains fighting the old battle for human rights when the new prize is economic opportunity. In the process, they aren't really standing up for black America. Jesse Jackson, for instance, demanded last year in Phoenix that "we must end the criminalization of undocumented people." The NAACP worries that immigration enforcement such as Arizona's state-based version of federal immigration laws will "contribute to the further criminalization of black and brown community members and mass incarceration."

What it doesn't seem to realize is that equality is not at risk to the degree anywhere close to how economic instability threatens blacks right now. What's important now is employment, access to business opportunity, fair contracting and lending and sane regulation. Cheap, exploited illegal laborers threaten black stability.

It is still true, as Ronald Reagan said, that America is a shining city on the hill that people from all over the world aspire to reach to bask in its warm glow. America is a place where dreams can come true if one works hard. As I often have said to African dignitaries and black Americans, I am not interested in going back to Africa despite any problems here and all the Africans I know are trying to get to the shores of my country.

I also believe there are those in the world, such as the Mexican elite, who are reportedly content to want to remove the discontented poor from within their own borders rather than make the fundamental reforms necessary to fix their own problems. America the beautiful becomes their dumping ground.

This is why it is so aggravating when self-professed black leaders appear more committed to the legalization of these law-breaking foreigners than economic uncertainty, crime, terrorism, the budget, education and overt neglect among their suffering black constituents. Rather than searching for "parallels" between immigration reform and the civil rights movement, as Representative John Lewis (D-GA) did with The Root earlier this year, how about fixing the economic mess facing America's real citizens?

I want to make unequivocally clear that my concern is about illegal immigrants and not American citizens and others who in the country legally. The fact is that employers are hiring illegals instead of Americans because of greed and a false veil of power.

Black leaders will not engage the issue in a realistic, logical or pragmatic manner based on the facts of illegal immigration and its negative impact on their constituents and the country. It's hard to tell if they do so for politics, personal gain or if they are just plain stupid!

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Charles Butler, is a member of the Project 21 black leadership network, a talk radio host in Chicago and the managing partner of Aricent LLC. Comments may be sent to [email protected].

Published by the National Center for Public Policy Research. Reprints permitted provided source is credited. New Visions Commentaries reflect the views of their author, and not necessarily those of Project 21, other Project 21 members, or the National Center for Public Policy Research, its board or staff.


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