Regardless of our individual takes on immigration as a social issue, as African Americans we should be united in our opposition to the contemporary anti-immigrant movement as they continue to denigrate Black America by mainstreaming white supremacist leadership while also attacking the 14th Amendment and black voting rights.
I’ve often argued within the Black community that even if there weren’t a single immigrant or refugee left in the United States the anti-immigrant movement would still exist because they are not truly interested in resolving the cultural complexities of migration. In reality, they are “interested” in dismantling civil rights, limiting citizenship, and resetting our national identity with the cast of an ideology called white nationalism.
Over the last five years the anti-immigrant movement, better known as the John Tanton Network, has overtured repeatedly to the Black community, attempting to convince us that present discourses on immigration will never negatively impact us.
“…Steven Pitts, an African-American who teaches at UC-Berkeley, says there is no correlation whatsoever between immigration and the lack of jobs for Blacks in major metropolitan cities, where over 70% of us reside.”
In sounding these overtures, though, they have strained their collective vocal chords, arguing at us that their social agendas will actually benefit our families and communities. Sadly, some so-called African American leaders are starting to swallow their sweet-nothings as gospel truths.
One of the bigger lies that the John Tanton Network throws at the Black community is that immigrants and refugees are siphoning jobs from African Americans which are rightfully ours. We should take offense to the tone of self-righteousness that underwires such claims, i.e. these racists seem certain that cleaning up after white people and/or raising their children are the only jobs suitable for us humble folk.
Such arrogance smacks of Jim Crow paternalism.
“And the concrete reality that this movement’s elected leadership maintains one of the most extreme voting records against Civil Rights in Congressional history should be all the proof we need….”
According to Professor Steven Pitts, an African-American who teaches at UC-Berkeley, there is no correlation whatsoever between immigration and the lack of jobs for Blacks in major metropolitan cities, where over 70% of us reside. Rather, Pitts tells us that the real enemy of Black economic opportunity is a two-dimensional job crisis that exists in our communities—unemployment and low wage work. This very real crisis stems NOT from immigrants or Latinos but from employment discrimination, substandard education across K-12 schooling, and continuing attacks on organized labor.
Now, are anti-immigrant groups focusing on any of these problems? No.
Are they planning to? No, again.
And the concrete reality that this movement’s elected leadership maintains one of the most extreme voting records against Civil Rights in Congressional history should be all the proof we need that they won’t be focusing on our problems any time so0n.
Worse still even, anti-immigrant superiors are just as determined to roll back Civil Rights at street-level as they are in Congress.
For example, according to Daily Kos, Marcus Epstein, whose work for the Tanton Network has published via their imprint the Social Contract Press, will be sentenced on July 8th for assaulting a Black woman in Washington, D.C.
While attacking this complete stranger, Epstein used the “N” word until he was eventually detained by an off-duty Secret Service officer.
Furthermore, the John Tanton Network actively maintains strong ties with members of the reconstituted White Citizens’ Council, i.e. the Council of Conservative Citizens, a group that fervently fought the Civil Rights Movement in order to uphold Jim Crow ideals across the South.
Plainly spoken, folks within the anti-immigrant movement, especially those claiming membership within the Tanton Network, are Jim Crow’s descendants. They fully understand that Civil Rights victories for immigrants are defeats against their platforms of organized bigotry and structural/institutional racism.
With such dangers in mind, we must re-tune our ears as they will continue whispering to us, hoping that Black America will eventually nod blankly in favor of their “policies.” If we do nod, we as Americans will rubbish a real chance to once again level blows against bigots—and to once again save our own hides.
If instead of nodding, our collective response should be to push our own leaders to pass real, positive immigration reforms, i.e. social agreements grounded in racial equity and open opportunities.
If we do so, together we will once again re-level history.