A newly formed coalition of 11 influential Blacks known as “Choose Black America” rebuked the U.S. Senate’s comprehensive immigration bill at its inaugural press conference Tuesday at the National Press Club in Washington D.C.
The immigration bill, which could be passed by week’s end, could ultimately create a path of U.S. citizenship for more than 10 million illegal immigrants, as well as another path for outsiders to come to the United States by way of a guest worker program.
According to a handout by the coalition, mass illegal immigration has been one of the greatest historical impediments to Black advancement, and the passage of the bill will make matters worse.
“Illegal immigration has wiped out the gains of Blacks from the civil rights movement,” said Dr. Claud Anderson, the author of several books, including Black Labor, White Wealth.
Other speakers stressed that Black access to jobs and government resources has shrunk with this “invasion” of illegal immigrants.
“How dare we press the lie that we have a labor shortage here,” said Dr. Frank Morris Sr., a former dean at the University of Maryland-College Park and Morgan State University. “How dare we think that there are jobs in construction and manufacturing that Americans don’t want when in these jobs Americans are the overwhelming number of workers. It is not just a concern that African-Africans are going to be hurt. All Americans are going to be hurt if this comprehensive bill from the Senate is taken up. We are here to call the alarm for justice.”
James E. Clingman, a syndicated columnist and adjunct professor of African-American studies at the University of Cincinnati, said that if Blacks do refuse to take certain jobs, they have a viable reason.
“Pay us a living wage and we will work for it,” he said.
Along the same lines, many of the speakers were against the possible exploitation of immigrants through the guest worker program.
“We will not allow you to be slaves,” declared Ted Hayes, a nationally renowned homeless activist in Los Angeles.
Other members of the coalition included: Dr. Rosie Milligan, the founder of Milligan Books; Kevin Fobbs, founder of the National Urban Policy Action Council; Rev. Jesse Peterson, founder and president of the Brotherhood of a New Destiny; Terry Anderson, host of the syndicated weekly radio show, “Terry Anderson Show;” Bishop Frank Stewart, founder and president of the Black American Family Christian Agenda International; Dr. Nathaniel Chism, founder and director of the African Holistic Healing Center and the Kemet Longevity Institute; and Angelita Herron, an immigration reform activist in Los Angeles.
Some of the coalition’s claims appear to contradict the results of previous polls. One poll found that 82 percent of Blacks support a proposal that would allow undocumented workers a chance to become citizens. Another poll, by the Pew Research Center, shows that only 22 percent of Blacks say they or a family member have lost a job, or not gotten a job, because an employer hired an immigrant worker.
— By Ibram Rogers
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