Our VoiceImmigration

African American members of the House blast efforts to divide communities of color

Charlotte Williams • Mar 11, 2011

Last week, the U.S. House Committee on the Judiciary held a Subcommittee Hearing on Immigration Policy and Enforcement entitled, “Making Immigration Work for American Minorities.”  The panel of witnesses was stacked with anti-immigrant leaders.

However, their skewed reports on immigration were met with emotional rebuttals as members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) vehemently denounced the attempts of House Republicans and anti-immigrant spokespersons to drive wedges between African Americans, Blacks and Latinos.

Representative Emanuel Cleaver II, D-MO, responded in a statement,

“I am concerned by the Majority’s attempt to manufacture tension between the African American and immigrant communities. It seems as though they would like for our communities to think about immigration in terms of ‘us vs. them’, and I reject that notion.”

During the first half of the hearing, Rep. John Conyers, D-MI, called the notion of pitting blacks against Latino immigrants, ”abhorrent and repulsive.”  As we enter the frantic stage mid-term presidential election positioning, accurate dialogue regarding the critical immigration debate is vital.  Representative Louie Gohmer’s, R-TX, comment, “Enforcing illegal immigration protects Hispanics” and that “we’re corrupting a Hispanic culture which came here with a strong faith” is presumptive and arrogant.  To believe one would have the power to corrupt the faith of an entire culture is nonsense.

Representative Maxine Waters, D-CA, thoroughly denounced the political mudslinging,

As a Member of Congress representing both Latinos and African Americans, I am very disappointed with the Majority’s effort to pit minorities against one another in a blatant attempt to derail comprehensive immigration reform. Clearly, today’s hearing was organized to divert attention away from their inability to present policies and proposals that would truly stimulate the American economy and help to put all Americans back to work.”

The Congressional Black Caucus and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus have been at the forefront in championing progressive policies that take into account the challenges that American minorities confront.  One need only review the Republicans’ voting records to understand their political priorities – and it does not include a deep concern for the working class or American minorities.

Just prior to leaving the chamber, Representative Waters stated, ”A fragmented reform policy that focuses only on E-Verify and deportation will yield unintended consequences that will negatively impact American Workers.”

Reps. Cleaver and Waters should be applauded for speaking out against efforts by anti-immigrant groups and some GOP leaders to divide communities.

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