Our VoiceImmigration

African American and Black leaders voice strong support for Rep. Emanuel Cleaver II

Charlotte Williams • Mar 15, 2011

This week, members of the Which Way Forward Network (WWF) sent a letter to Representative Emanuel Cleaver II, D-MO, commending his swift response to efforts by anti-immigrant leaders to pit African Americans against immigrants during a March 1 congressional immigration hearing.

The Which Way Forward Network is comprised of African Americans and Black leaders who are diverse in both thought and opinion regarding the issue of immigration reform in this country and believe in dialogues that enable African Americans to identify their self-interests in the immigration debate.  Network leaders are also concerned about some African American leaders who choose to associate with anti-immigrant organizations that have ties to white nationalist organizations, publications and leaders.

“Throughout our 40-year history, the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) has worked tirelessly to ensure that all Americans, regardless of race, color or creed have the chance to pursue and achieve the American dream.  I am concerned by the Majority’s attempt to manufacture tension between the African American and immigrant communities” responded Rep. Cleaver.

Other members of the CBC joined Rep. Cleaver in denouncing the negative, politically-extreme rhetoric of the anti-immigrant witnesses brought forth by Majority members of the Subcommittee on Immigration Policy and Enforcement. Rep. Maxine Waters, D-CA and Rep. John Conyers, D-MI both expressed concern during the hearing, indicating that the information presented was meant to “manufacture tension” between African Americans and immigrants.

In addition to voicing support for Rep. Cleaver, the letter calls for the CBC and other African American leaders to be vigilant in monitoring both the impact of anti-immigrant policies and recent activity that seeks to weaken historical victories of the Civil Rights movement, such as voting rights, access to social services, education, and citizenship rights.

Members of the Which Way Forward Network recognize the critical voice of African American leaders and elected officials in maintaining a candid debate on immigration. The Network encourages the CBC to continue to advance an immigration dialogue that enables honest debate and supports civil rights for all.

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