While the Black American Leadership Alliance (BALA) has received a fair amount of press this summer for its rallies and “tours” to proselytize that immigrants take jobs from Americans, particularly African Americans, it is NumbersUSA president and founder Roy Beck who has most recently voiced “support” for Black America.
On the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, Beck published a NumbersUSA blog arguing that “[O]ne of the greatest contributors to the huge civil rights advances in the 1960s was the fact that the United States had a tight labor market that increasingly needed Black American workers.” He adds that the “dramatic reduction in annual immigration flows ever since 1921” was “a key reason for the tightness of the labor market.”
Beck continues: “I have long argued for reducing immigration to tighten labor markets as one of the top moral claims on our political system, particularly to level the playing field for Black Americans.”
In Beck’s self-aggrandizing essay, he fails to mention the most obvious contributing factors to Black poverty, unemployment, and underemployment, both presently and historically, like job discrimination and violent systemic racism. Those two factors alone have made it difficult, and in many cases, impossible, for the “playing field” to be leveled.
The NumbersUSA president should be aware, perhaps more than anyone, of the role that racism plays in cultural and economic politics, as he has presented at the Council of Conservative Citizens, a white nationalist organization that has called African-Americans a “retrograde species of humanity.” Beck and NumbersUSA are also closely tied to noted white nationalist, John Tanton, architect of the modern day anti-immigrant movement. Tanton has funded platforms that debate racial eugenics based on the belief that those identified as the most productive “gene pool of the human stock” should be the ones with access to and control over scarce resources.
The anti-immigrant movement, including BALA, is painfully out of touch with the base they claim to speak for. Nothing more clearly illuminates that than BALA enlisting the Tea Party to promulgate their message. To attract large audiences and attention for their July 15 “DC March for Jobs” rally, BALA bussed in Tea Party members from Texas, Alabama, and Arizona, among other states; and broadened their narrative to say immigrants are taking jobs from the American worker, not simply African Americans. And of the dozen mostly white speakers at that July 15 rally, only a few even remembered to mention the Black jobs crisis.
Though they keep chugging along, BALA and the anti-immigrant movement at large, including Beck’s grassroots NumbersUSA, are losing ground. Support for immigration reform is growing by the day while anti-immigration activists can’t even bother to show up at rallies.
For years, front groups for NumbersUSA, the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), and other offshoots of the Tanton Network have capitalized on existing tensions between Black and Brown communities. And despite research that shows there is no connection between immigration and lack of jobs for Blacks, the anti-immigrant movement continues to perpetuate the myth that progressive immigration measures are a hindrance to Black economic prosperity.
Roy Beck and anti-immigrant groups so nobly claim to be concerned about saving jobs for Americans, particularly for African Americans, but have no policy initiatives to address the real crisis facing Black workers, and they continue to align themselves with racists and white nationalists. These groups serve no purpose other than to derail honest discussions on immigration and distract us from achieving legitimate economic fairness for all and a multiracial democracy.