Blacks Slam Immigration Bias; Leaders Say Hispanics Given Preferential Treatment

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), May 4, 2006 | Go to article overview

Blacks Slam Immigration Bias; Leaders Say Hispanics Given Preferential Treatment


Byline: Brian DeBose, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Black leaders say Mexicans and other Hispanic nationals are getting preferential immigration treatment, as the U.S. systematically turns away people from countries with largely African-descended populations, such as Jamaica and the Dominican Republic.

"We've told Haiti that their development strategy cannot be to send people to the United States, and if you put them on a boat we will send them back. But for Mexico it is OK," said William E. Spriggs, chairman of Howard University's School of Economics and a senior fellow with the Economic Policy Institute.

The leaders, especially conservatives, say the country can't have an honest immigration reform debate without discussing how much people are being paid and why only certain nationalities are allowed to come into the country illegally and work off the books.

"There can't be 10 million Mexicans in America worth $5 a hour and there aren't 10 million Mexicans in Mexico worth $5 a hour, that just can't be," Mr. Spriggs said. "We are letting Mexico get away with this, and until we have a full discussion on wage levels in Mexico we will never solve this problem."

The Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson, a Los Angeles-based conservative talk show host and founder of the nonprofit Brotherhood Organization of a New Destiny, said the debate about immigration reform is all about politics.

"Unfortunately for blacks, politicians like [Sen. Edward M.] Kennedy are more interested in the next election - and blacks are a small slice of the voting pie, while Hispanic numbers are exploding," he said. "Blacks must finally claim their birthright as Americans, and say 'no' to the further devastation of their work force and communities by illegal aliens and their political accomplices."

While many mainstream black leaders fall in line with Democrats, generally supporting guest-worker programs or amnesty for illegal aliens, blacks are split on how to reform immigration so that jobs, border security and the rights of migrant laborers are all protected.

Mr. Spriggs said blacks are not willing to turn Hispanic migrants away based on arguments that appear to be either xenophobic or racist.

"Most blacks don't think migrant workers hurt their chances to get work, with the exception of a few industries - most notably construction - and they want to show solidarity with the immigrants," said Rep. …

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