Black Activists Say Immigration Shortcuts are Not a Civil Right Issue
Attempts to Equate Amnesty with the 1960s Struggle for Equal Rights Distorts Facts
For Release: May 1, 2006
Contact: David Almasi or Peyton Knight at (202) 507-6398
As proponents of amnesty for illegal aliens stage nationwide protests and work stoppages, members of the black leadership network Project 21 point out that the movement's comparison of illegal aliens' quest for preferential and expedited citizenship benefits bear no comparison to the hardships endured by African-Americans during the civil rights era.
"The amnesty issue is being distorted. This is not about the rights of people here legally or of equal rights - it is about people who are here illegally wanting everyone to ignore the fact that they broke the law to get into this country," said Project 21 member Geoffrey Moore. "The civil rights movement was about some American citizens being treated worse than others. The rallies happening now are about lawbreaking non-citizens wanting to be given the same rights and benefits of those who came to America through the proper immigration channels."
Civil rights is a common theme of amnesty proponents. For example, at a recent rally in Atlanta, a sign mimicking the famous words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. read "We have a Dream, Too." Partha Banerjee of the New Jersey Immigration Policy Network said in an interview with OneWorld.net: "[T]his is really a new civil right movement reborn in this country... This is not just about the immigrants. It's about human and civil rights, it's about all marginalized, underprivileged people in the United States." Representative Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX), who introduced legislation to grant permanent residency status to long-term illegal aliens, said on "Democracy Now" radio: "My bill attempted to craft this as a civil rights issue... I believe [amnesty] is a civil rights question."
Representative Lee, however, could only convince nine other Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) members to co-sponsor her bill. Black columnist Earl Ofari Hutchinson has noted: "The CBC and civil rights leaders tread lightly on the immigration rights battle... They are loath to equate their movement with the civil rights battles of the 1960s."
"If illegal immigrants want to remain in America and enjoy the benefits of liberty, proper legal processing is required," said Project 21 member Deneen Moore. "The civil rights movement was a fight for justice and equality. Illegal immigrants are fighting the rule of law."
For more information, contact David Almasi or Peyton Knight at (202) 507-6398 or Project21@nationalcenter.org, or visit Project 21's website at http://www.project21.org/P21Index.html. New Visions Commentaries can be found at http://nationalcenter.org/P21NewVisions.html.
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