Politics
Crowds of job-seekers wait to enter a job fair. Reed Saxon/AP Images. Crowds of job-seekers wait to enter a job fair. Reed Saxon/AP Images.  

African-American leaders protest Senate’s immigration bill

Neil Munro
White House Correspondent

WASHINGTON – Wednesday, a coalition of black leaders slammed an effort by a D.C. progressive group to exclude them from the growing controversy over the immigration overhaul, which they say will put millions of blacks out of jobs.

The response came after Wade Henderson, who heads the D.C.-based Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, released an April 24 statement that denigrated the black leaders as unrepresentative and divisive.

“Divisive and baseless rhetoric has no place in a serious national conversation about immigration reform,” Henderson said.

The attack was included in a press release that called the African American Leadership Council a “fringe group … [whose] views are extreme outliers among African Americans and the general public.”

“Talk to 20 black folks who are not paid by the left … and you will find that brother Henderson is on the wrong side of an 80/20 [polling] issue,” replied Vernon Robinson, a former councilman from Winston-Salem in North Carolina, former U.S. Air Force officer, and member of the coalition who spoke at the National Press Club on Wednesday.

“The elite leadership is not the same as the black grassroots,” Frank Morris, the former executive director of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation and a progressive opposed to the Senate bill.

“A political Judas will say anything in D.C. … they’re for their 30 pieces of silver and at the end of the day they’ve betrayed our community,” countered Kevin Martin, a member of Project 21, which is run by the conservative National Center for Public Policy Research think-tank.

The coalition held a press conference at the National Press Club to protest the Senate’s pending immigration bill.

The complex bill would provide a multi-stage amnesty to at least 11 million illegal immigrants and allow another 4.7 million foreigners now waiting for a visa into the country. The bill would also greatly increase today’s annual inflow of one million permanent immigrants and employer-sponsored agricultural workers, blue-collar workers and college-educated professionals.

Currently, African-American unemployment is at least 13 percent — or twice as high as white unemployment. But under different measures the rate can be far higher. For example, less than half of male high-school dropouts have full-time jobs. (ANALYSIS: In Obama’s economy, immigrants outpace native-born Americans)

Polls show that many or most Americans are alarmed about the economic impact of immigration, even as many also say they would accept amnesty in exchange for a guaranteed government clampdown on the hiring of illegal immigrants. However, some polls also show the few Americans believe the government will stop the hiring of illegals.