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June 6, 2013 18

Black American Leadership Alliance Mobilizing Against Immigration Reform

A group made up of long­time anti-immigrant activists claim­ing that immi­gra­tion reform will hurt the African-American com­mu­nity is work­ing on a num­ber of fronts in oppo­si­tion to the Senate’s immi­gra­tion reform bill. The group, the Black Amer­i­can Lead­er­ship Alliance (BALA), recently changed its name from the African Amer­i­can Lead­er­ship Coun­cil (AALC). black-american-leadership-alliance

Using its orig­i­nal name, the group held a press con­fer­ence in April announc­ing its oppo­si­tion to the Senate’s immi­gra­tion reform bill. BALA’s mem­bers, such as activists Frank Mor­ris and Leah Durant, are closely tied to anti-immigrant groups founded by or with the help of racist John Tan­ton, the archi­tect of the modern-day anti-immigrant move­ment. Mor­ris cur­rently sits on the boards of the Cen­ter for Immi­gra­tion Stud­ies (CIS) and the Fed­er­a­tion for Amer­i­can Immi­gra­tion Reform (FAIR), both founded by Tan­ton, and another anti-immigrant front group, Pro­gres­sives for Immi­gra­tion Reform (PFIR). Durant is the exec­u­tive direc­tor of PFIR and is a for­mer attor­ney with the Immi­gra­tion Reform Law Insti­tute (IRLI), the legal arm of FAIR. 

Since its ini­tial press con­fer­ence, the group issued an open let­ter on June 3 to the Senate’s bi-partisan “Gang of Eight,” the Con­gres­sional Black Cau­cus and sen­a­tors from states with high rates of black unem­ploy­ment urg­ing them to acknowl­edge the “dam­ag­ing impact mass immi­gra­tion has on low-skilled work­ers” and rec­og­nize “the harm­ful impact that S. 744 would have on low skilled work­ers, par­tic­u­larly those in the black community.”

Many of the sig­na­to­ries of the let­ter attended and spoke at the group’s press con­fer­ence in April. One of the sig­na­to­ries, Tom Broad­wa­ter, the national chair of the group Americans4Work, appeared as a guest on a webi­nar hosted by the anti-immigrant group Num­ber­sUSA on June 4. Dur­ing this call, Broad­wa­ter stated, “We need our jobs, we need our peo­ple, our Amer­i­can cit­i­zens to have jobs. Legal immi­grants, ille­gal immi­grants, they’re all bad as far as we are con­cerned for America.”

On July 15, BALA is orga­niz­ing a “DC March for Jobs” rally in Wash­ing­ton, DC, intended “to help to stop Con­gress’ amnesty push.” BALA’s web­site says that the group will “demand that our lead­ers reject amnesty, and pass immi­gra­tion poli­cies that put black Amer­i­cans back to work.” It remains to be seen how many activists BALA can mobi­lize for the event.

The talk­ing points and tac­tics BALA is using in an attempt to derail the Senate’s immi­gra­tion reform bill are no dif­fer­ent from the broader anti-immigrant move­ment. Through­out its his­tory, the move­ment has cre­ated front groups opposed to immi­gra­tion reform, claim­ing that it will have a neg­a­tive effect on minorities.

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