- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 17, 2007

Well, the numbers are in. One year ago, there were 98.3 million American racial “minorities.” Today, that number is 100.7 million, which means that one in three American residents is non-white. “To put this in perspective,” said Census chief Louis Kincannon, “there are more minorities in this country today than there were people in the United in 1910.”

Back then, in 1910, a Democrat would look more like David Duke than Ted Kennedy. What’s most astonishing today is that the very organizations that once forced America to stare down racial discrimination have cocooned themselves in silence — no longer seeing things as they are and taking action accordingly.

They are resting in place.

The “they” are the National Urban League, the NAACP, the Anti-Defamation League, the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. They do not see the overwhelming illegal immigration problem as a threat to the life, liberty and pursuit of happiness of American citizens. They hear, see and speak not at all.

One of their brethren, T. Willard Fair, is trying to enlighten them. He’s trying to get them to see that if illegal immigration continues unabated the inability of the black man and the status of the families he’s unable to tend to are only going to grow worse — a black America that Whitney Young wrote about in his 1969 book “Beyond Racism” and mirrors the one Sen. Barack Obama discusses today.

Mr. Fair is president of the Greater Miami Urban League, and he told a House immigration panel last week that there are many reasons for the “grim” pathological statistics that define today’s black men. “But one factor,” he said, “is too often ignored — mass immigration.”

“[T]he 1965 immigration law that started today’s mass immigration was itself seen as a civil rights measure, intended to clean out rules that favored immigrants from some countries over others. Sen. Edward Kennedy, then, as now, chairman of the Senate immigration subcommittee, said, ‘The bill will not flood our cities with immigrants… It will not cause American workers to lose their jobs.’ So much for predictions,” Mr. Fair said in his May 9 testimony.

Well, both white and black Americans have lost and are losing their jobs. And if Mr. Kennedy has his way with the current immigration legislation, not only will illegal aliens be permitted to permanently prop open the doors to legitimacy but they will also be able to permanently take the place of blacks and whites in the job market.

For black America, the immigration debate is not about race. It’s about class and values.

Yesterday,Mr. Kennedy spoke passionately about the millions and millions of illegal aliens who live in fear of being deported and being unable to provide for their families. But what about the millions of American men who live in fear of being unable to take care of their families?

Their once highly skilled construction or manufacturing jobs are being given to unskilled workers.

Their wage work at restaurants and hotels — even for domestic workers — is being given to unskilled workers.

As a May 15 article by Brian DeBose in The Washington Times pointed out, one of the men on the same side of the debate as Mr. Fair is a white Republican — yes, a white Republican — and that man is Rep. Lamar Smith. In a letter to some of the same organizations that I cited earlier, Mr. Smith issued a challenge, saying that blacks were largely filling jobs that illegals had lost due to immigration raids. Mr. Smith then asked, in his letter, for those organizations to join him in “speaking out against the Senate’s proposed mass amnesty for illegal immigrants.”

Did they?

The NAACP made up a bunch of excuses. The SCLC, which was cofounded by MLK, didn’t even bother to return Brian’s calls. How can this be? This is from an organization that has a moral obligation as a Christian organization and a societal obligation, since its actions forced Bull Connor to turn off his hoses. It’s also disappointing that the Anti-Defamation League and the National Urban League are effectively letting Mr. Kennedy speak for their organizations. Whatever happened to Jews and blacks locking arms and marching toward the same goals?

Hilary Shelton — head of the NAACP’s Washington bureau and a culture warrior I’ve always respected (even when we haven’t respectfully agreed to disagree) — offered this: “It sounds like that same effort to scapegoat immigrants for the overall failings of our economic system. What we need to talk about and what the real issue is, is the reality of these low-paying jobs without access to health care and lacking a living wage.”

Now, this is really serious stuff. But, begging Hilary’s pardon, it sounds like deja vu all over again. MLK, Asa Philip Randolph, Ted Kennedy and Adam Clayton Powell — they all pushed for living wages. Have they all forgotten that equal pay for equal work was at the heart of the seminal 1963 demonstration — the March on Washington?

Hilary also told Brian that the NAACP is concerned about labor exploitation. “Let’s not forget that these are human beings,” Hilary said, “who are being duped, entering into an exploitative system that they are not made fully aware of and are not adequately prepared for as they search for the American dream.”

I hear you, Hilary. Indeed, immigration reform should, at some point during broad discussions, always include addressing human-rights abuses. However, stemming the tide of lawbreakers — on both sides of the border — should be our No. 1 concern in 2007. We don’t even know how many illegals are in American. Is it 10 million? Perhaps 12 million? Or 13 million?

How disappointing that two of America’s greatest institutions — the NAACP and the National Urban League — want flagrant lawbreakers to stand head-to-head with law-abiding American men.

The silence on the societal ramifications of illegal immigration has been so deafening for so long it has now given rise to the birth of a new nation. It is a nation that’s still not colorblind, as MLK had hoped. It is a place where a King holds less sway with black America than a Kennedy does. Small wonder the princely looking Obama even draws their attention.

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