Banding Together for Immigrant Rights

On June 23 megaphones were a-blazin’ as anti-immigration
protesters and counter-protesters sounded off against each other in
Los Angeles.
San FranciscoBayView‘s
Leslie Radford reports that at the march, which was organized by
the anti-immigrant Federation for American Immigration Reform, a
group called Choose Black America urged African Americans to
come to their side of the picket line. ‘Don’t be fooled by the
black-brown coalitions,’ one announcement intoned. As Radford
reports, the divide-and-conquer entreaty was lost on the
alliance of blacks, Latinos, and whites who showed up in support
of immigrant rights.
?
Though stories abound of whites and blacks coming together to
combat illegal immigration, positive counter-alliances are emerging
between Latinos and African Americans. ‘The media love to show
images of a few African Americans demonstrating together with
right-wing groups,’ writes Gerald Lenoir in an opinion piece for
New America Media. His
Berkeley-based organization, the
Black
Alliance for Just Immigration
(BAJI), offers a different
storyline. Standing up to racism, writes Lenoir, who is a
coordinator for BAJI, means fighting it in all its forms. And
that means building a joint movement for immigrant rights and
civil rights.

To that end, Lenoir and BAJI members, along with representatives
from other immigrant-rights organizations, recently toured the
US-Mexican border, reports
Latino Perspectives Magazine. After
witnessing what he calls ‘a war zone’ at the border, Lenoir told
the magazine that BAJI will compile a report for the United
Nations on migrant rights in the United States.?

Though the alliance may seem natural to some, polls show that
African Americans have mixed feelings toward immigration.
A Pew Charitable Trusts poll from April
2006, referenced by Lenoir, suggests that most African Americans
view immigrants as ‘hard-working’ (79 percent) and as ‘hav[ing]
strong family values’ (77 percent). The poll also shows,
however, that African Americans are more likely than whites to
believe that ‘immigrants take jobs away from American citizens.’
?

In spite of such views, Lenoir argues that the economic fates of
African Americans and immigrants are inextricably linked. He cites
the work of economist Steven Pitts of the University of California
Berkeley Center for Labor Research and Education, who ?notes that
studies indicate that legalizing undocumented workers would benefit
both immigrants and citizens by raising wages and improving working
conditions.

Until that happens, BAJI hopes that by engaging African
Americans and Latinos in dialogue and emphasizing common interests,
both groups can unite on the same side of the picket line. After
all, Lenoir says, their civil, economic, or human rights struggles
won’t be won without allies.

Go there
>>
Black and Brown Unite to Stop the
Minutemen

And there >>
Blacks, Immigrants Are Allies More Than
Adversaries

And there >>
Black Alliance Tours Border

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