"We have a huge problem. This immigration problem is a crisis and we can't get around it anymore. It has got to be dealt with. We have not done what we should have done to secure the borders. We have the resources to secure the border if we really have the will to do so there is going to be more border security to stop the influx of immigrants from coming in."
"Let me say at the outset that a strong border security policy is an absolute necessity for this nation."
"They [immigrants] have to acknowledge that breaking our immigration laws was wrong. They must pay a penalty and abide by all of our laws going forward."
Who made these comments? Was it a right-wing Republican congressman? Was it a hate-monger from the racist Minutemen Project?
No, these statements came from the liberal darlings of the Democratic Party-Maxine Waters, John Conyers and Barack Obama, respectively-during various interviews on how to deal with the so-called immigration "problem". In fact, these comments reflect what has been a generally cool reception to this new civil rights movement for immigrant rights, by the old guard of the last civil rights movement for African Americans.
From the NAACP to the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC)-the self-anointed "conscience of the Congress-a number of Black political leaders have been notably lukewarm to the new movement. In fact, Black Democrat and CBC member Harold Ford of Tennessee actually voted affirmatively to the racist HR4437 anti-immigrant bill. When the NAACP finally came out with a statement, at the end of March, in support of the rights of immigrants, they firmly planted themselves on the right wing of the movement by supporting the vague "earned path to legal permanent residency and citizenship for college age students."
This is an interesting article that looks at immigration reform as the "new civil rights movement" and how the African-American community has just as much at stake as Latinos. As for why Democrats and civil rights leaders aren't getting on board, the author cites three reasons:
First, the Democratic Party as a whole has radically shifted to the right over the last twenty years. In a move toward "electability" the Democrats have pandered and acquiesced to the right-all the while abandoning their base-on the key political and social issues of the day: abortion, the death penalty and the criminal justice system, gay marriage, health care and education and now immigrant rights.
Black Democrats are no different. Moreover, they have an additional role to play-helping to patch up the reputation of the party in the Black community and within the broad left when the Democrats line up with Republicans on important political issues.
Second, a number of Black elected officials feel politically threatened by the rising number of Latinos moving into their districts. As Latinos have displaced African Americans as the largest racial minority in the United States, there is a competitive fear amongst Black politicians that the rising political clout of Latinos could erode into their electoral base of support.
Lastly, there is another side to the Black Democrats conservative approach to the immigration question. Many of the Black elected officials are tailing the genuine anxiety that a number of ordinary Blacks have expressed about low wages and job loss that they attribute to the presence of undocumented workers who accept low wages.
The article goes on to describe how politicians are pitting Black and Latino communities against each other to divert attention from real poverty and class issues, and how all working people regardless of ethnicity have a stake in the outcome. Whether you agree with the author's point of view or some of her conclusions, it's an interesting read.