- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 30, 2006

“There is no doubt that Mexicans, filled with dignity, willingness and ability to work are doing jobs that not even blacks want to do there in the United States.” When Mexico’s president, Vicente Fox, uttered those words in May 2005, Americans on the right and the left wanted to take him to the woodshed. His comments were, to be sure, the opening salvo in what now is being called the immigration-reform debate.

What would George Mason, who owned his fair share of slaves but opposed slavery, say? Would Martin Luther King lock arms with El Presidente Fox for a rousing chorus of “We Shall Overcome?”

As protests in cities around America are proving, immigration reform is shaping up to be the New Civil Rights Movement. If left unchallenged in the hands of Congress and the White House, black America will be worse off than it is now. If you think your college-educated sons and daughters are having a hard time trying to find employment in certain industries, let the Inside-the-Beltway boys and girls have their way. If you think black unemployment rates are high now, let them have their way. Comprende?

Where are the voices Americans have come to hear opposing the Bush administration? Are they in concert with Senate Republicans and the plans that call for the “Latinization of America?”

Marc Morial’s National Urban League, Julian Bond’s NAACP, the Rev. Joseph Lowery’s Southern Christian Leadership Conference and the Congressional Black Caucus are as mum as church mice. (It’s as if they all have conspired quietly on behalf of Texas Democrat Sheila Jackson Lee, the ranking member on the House Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security and Claims, who stands to become chairman if the Democrats take the House in this fall’s midterm elections.)

How can black “leaders” remain mute? How can such congressmen as John Conyers of Michigan be taken seriously? This John Conyers, a founding member of the black caucus, is the same John Conyers who legislatively demands reparations for slavery, a “peculiar” but nonetheless once legal institution, but will not speak out on behalf of immigrants, people who are in this country legally.

To see liberal blacks on the same page as white liberals like Teddy Kennedy is not surprising. It’s a cultural thing like bootlegging. But liberal blacks reading a how-to guide written in Spanish?

The relationship between our president and Mexico’s can only be described as mano-a-mano. George W. seems determined to ignore the wishes of the American people and cooperate with El Presidente’s efforts to flood our cities — from the streets of L.A. and the juke joints in the Delta to the fields of Middle America and the posh hallways of five-star hotels — with his people. The more who cross our border the lesser the burden on El Presidente.

What are we supposed to do in-kind? Be a kinder, gentler America? Compassionate conservatives who look the other way? I could, perhaps, if my ancestors had emigrated to America. I could, perhaps, if Jim Crow hadn’t run my grandmother out of Georgia. I might be willing to be more compassionate if my great-grandparents had been permitted to go to school “and make something of themselves,” instead of being forced to tend to rice and indigo fields in South Carolina.

I might reconsider giving amnesty to illegal aliens or, at the least, entertain debates on the guest-worker proposal, if my ancestors had actually emigrated to this country and hadn’t blistered their hands and broken their backs farming peanuts, and picking peaches and cotton for no salary. Comprende?

This new movement, this New Civil Rights Movement, is demanding for illegal entrants the same things that blacks born here were deliberately denied until generations ago civic participation, citizenship, family reunification, workers’ rights, free education and, dare I say, equal rights.

Have we all forgotten the Civil Rights Act of 1964? The Voting Rights Act of 1965? The oh-so-recent deaths of Coretta Scott King and Rosa Parks? Are we even aware that Dr. Dorothy Height is 94 years old and here but by the grace of God?

The Constitution, the Bill of Rights and the rule of law are, as blacks know, better than any American demographic, double-edged swords. Whether Republican or Democrat, liberal, conservative or libertarian, of the Bible Belt or the Capital Beltway, you can check the polls and see that what Americans want are secure borders and laws and lawmen that send a clear message: Enter at your own risk.

America, especially black America, cannot afford to be silenced by promises on this one. America is what it is: a republic of Americans, by Americans and for Americans. The same holds true when translated into Spanish.

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