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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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February 13, 2013 1

Rep. Ted Poe (R-TX) Named Head of House Immigration Reform Caucus

Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Ted Poe (R-TX) announced on Feb­ru­ary 7, 2013, that he will chair the House Immi­gra­tion Reform Cau­cus (IRC). The immi­gra­tion restric­tion­ist replaces out­go­ing chair­man Brian Bil­bray, who lost his seat in Cal­i­for­nia in Novem­ber 2012. Founded in 1999 by for­mer Col­orado Rep. Tom Tan­credo, IRC is the main block of immi­gra­tion restric­tion­ists in the House.  It is very closely aligned with the anti-immigrant movement.

Poe’s views closely align with the anti-immigrant move­ment. The Beltway-based anti-immigrant group Num­ber­sUSA give Poe an “A” grade for his vot­ing record on immi­gra­tion, which indi­cates that his record is in line with their ide­ol­ogy. In 2010, Poe signed onto an ami­cus brief in sup­port of Arizona’s SB1070 law, drafted by the Immi­gra­tion Reform Law Insti­tute (IRLI), the legal arm of the DC-based anti-immigrant group Fed­er­a­tion for Amer­i­can Immi­gra­tion Reform (FAIR).  Poe has attended FAIR’s annual “Hold Their Feet to the Fire” radio event in Wash­ing­ton, D.C. The event brings radio hosts to Wash­ing­ton to broad­cast live and inter­view anti-immigrant activists and restric­tion­ist politi­cians. On Novem­ber 19, 2009, Poe par­tic­i­pated in a forum with other mem­bers of the House Judi­ciary Com­mit­tee enti­tled “Amer­i­can Jobs in Peril: The Impact of Uncon­trolled Immi­gra­tion.” Speak­ers included Roy Beck, pres­i­dent of Num­ber­sUSA, and Jerry Kam­mer and Steven Camarota of the anti-immigrant think-tank Cen­ter for Immi­gra­tion Stud­ies (CIS).

The Feb­ru­ary 7, 2013 press release also announced the mem­bers of the IRC Exec­u­tive Com­mit­tee: Diane Black (R-TN), Bill Flo­res (R-TX), Phil Gin­grey (R-GA) and Lamar Smith (R-TX). All four Exec­u­tive Com­mit­tee mem­bers have “A” grades from Num­ber­sUSA.  Lamar Smith and Phil Gin­grey have close ties to the anti-immigrant move­ment. Dur­ing his tenure as chair of the House Judi­ciary Com­mit­tee, Smith invited many promi­nent mem­bers of the anti-immigrant move­ment to tes­tify on immi­gra­tion issues. Gin­grey and Smith are also reg­u­lars at FAIR’s “Hold Their Feet to the Fire” event. Both men received dona­tions from the U.S. Immi­gra­tion Reform PAC in the past. Mary Lou Tan­ton, the wife of racist John Tan­ton, the founder of the modern-day anti-immigrant move­ment, runs the PAC.

The Poe press release stated that IRC cur­rently has 58 mem­bers, although 77 peo­ple who were pre­vi­ously IRC mem­bers won re-election in 2012. It is unclear why so many IRC mem­bers decided to leave the Cau­cus, but some may want to dis­tance them­selves from the anti-immigrant move­ment now that immi­gra­tion reform has become more accept­able to both polit­i­cal par­ties. IRC’s pre­vi­ous two chairs, Bil­bray and Tom Tan­credo, a for­mer rep­re­sen­ta­tive from Col­orado, both lost elec­tions, per­haps in part due to their restric­tion­ist views on immi­gra­tion. It remains to be seen how Poe’s new posi­tion will impact vot­ers in his district.

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December 21, 2012 2

Upcoming Maryland Event Sign Of Increased Anti-Immigrant Activity

A con­fer­ence spon­sored by the Mary­land Con­ser­v­a­tive Action Net­work is due to take place in Annapo­lis on Jan­u­ary 12, 2013. The con­fer­ence, titled “Turn­ing the Tides 2013” brings together many of the main anti-immigrant voices in the state as well as some speak­ers known for their anti-Muslim state­ments and associations.

The con­fer­ence is the lat­est exam­ple of anti-immigrant activ­ity in Mary­land. Anti-immigrant activists were instru­men­tal in gath­er­ing enough sig­na­tures to put a mea­sure on the bal­lot in the Novem­ber 2012 elec­tion seek­ing to undo a law that granted in-state tuition to undoc­u­mented immi­grants at pub­lic col­leges in the state.  The in-state tuition bill was orig­i­nally signed into law in 2011. Despite the efforts of anti-immigrant activists, a major­ity of Mary­land vot­ers voted in favor of grant­ing in-state tuition. Many of the anti-immigrant activists involved in get­ting the issue on the bal­lot are due to speak at the Jan­u­ary 12 conference.

Sched­uled speak­ers at the event include:

Brad Botwin

Brad Botwin – founder of the anti-immigrant group Help Save Mary­land (HSM). Botwin’s group is listed on the web­site of the largest anti-immigrant group in the coun­try, the Fed­er­a­tion for Amer­i­can Immi­gra­tion Reform (FAIR), as a state con­tact. Botwin’s group has co-sponsored events with FAIR and other national groups, such as the Virginia-based Num­ber­sUSA. HSM also worked with FAIR’s legal arm, the Immi­gra­tion Reform Law Insti­tute (IRLI).

Neil Par­rott – Repub­li­can House of Del­e­gates mem­ber rep­re­sent­ing Dis­trict 2B. Par­rott is a mem­ber of State Leg­is­la­tors for Legal Immi­gra­tion (SLLI), a coali­tion of state law­mak­ers who work with IRLI to draft and intro­duce anti-immigrant leg­is­la­tion in their states. Par­rott was chair­man of the peti­tion group that suc­cess­fully put the in-state tuition law on the bal­lot in November.

Pamela Geller – co-founder of Stop the Islamiza­tion of Amer­ica (SOIA), a group seek­ing to rouse pub­lic fears about a “vast Islamic con­spir­acy” to destroy Amer­i­can val­ues.   Geller also works closely with far-right groups and fig­ures in Europe, such as the Eng­lish Defense League (EDL) and anti-Muslim Dutch politi­cian Geert Wilders.

Diana West – author and jour­nal­ist who writes about the “dan­gers” of Islam. In a Sep­tem­ber 15, 2012 post on her web­site, West wrote “Indeed, it is this basic Islamic cen­sor­ship that is at the crux of why Islam itself — not ‘Islamism,’ not ‘rad­i­cal Islam,’ not ‘Islamists’” but Islam — is an exis­ten­tial threat to the sur­vival of any free soci­ety.” In 2007, West met with mem­bers of the racist and xeno­pho­bic Bel­gian polit­i­cal party Vlaams Belang.

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