Special to Borderzine
WASHINGTON – With the U.S. Senate-passed immigration bill facing political limbo in the U.S. House of Representatives, conservative factions are voicing their opposition loudly here before any compromise can be reached.
Travel buses full of mainly older white attendees, from mostly southern states, representing the Tea Party Community group along with the Black American Leadership Alliance (BALA) spearheaded by Leah Durant gathered here at Freedom Plaza recently during the “March for Jobs” rally.
They carried homemade anti-immigration reform signs demanding “No Amnesty”, “American Jobs are for Americans”, “Close our Borders” and simply, “Deport.”
“All Democrats and all Independents in the Senate believe that there ought to be Amnesty, a handful of Republicans believe that also,” U.S. Representative Steve King a Republican from Iowa told them. “Whatever our heart says about people that want to be Americans but sought about doing it the illegal way, we can’t give them that legal status without sacrificing the rule of law.”
Braving the scorching heat, close to 1000 demonstrators led by King marched along Pennsylvania Ave. toward Capitol Hill’s upper Senate Park chanting slogans like “Kill the Bill” (referring to the Senate immigration bill 744) and “Hey, hey, ho, ho, the Gang of Eight must go.” The drafters of the bill are known as the Gang of Eight.
“This is what America looks like,” said King to a marcher, as he made his way toward the Capitol. “This is who America was built by.”
Brad Botwin, director of the group Help Save Maryland said his organization and its supporters have a broader mission today. “To educate those out of touch politicians in Congress… leaders who from time to time forget that they do not work for big business, they do not work for unions and they certainly don’t work for the illegal alien support groups.”
Help Save Maryland is a non-profit group whose mission statement includes the following goals: No drivers licenses, in-state tuition, voting privileges or access to state and local government services for illegal aliens and making English the official language of Maryland.
King, who many consider to be one of the most boisterous opponents of immigration reform, stirred up controversy with the remarks he made during an interview with the conservative website Newsmax.
King argued that “For every young illegal immigrant who becomes a valedictorian, there’s another 100 out there that — they weigh 130 pounds, and they’ve got calves the size of cantaloupes because they’re hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert.”
But unsettling comments aren’t new in the conservative movement. During the March for Jobs event Ken Crow, Co-founder of the Tea Party Community proclaimed that the audience possessed “Incredible DNA.”
In one particular instance he alluded to the fact that one “wouldn’t breed Secretariat with a donkey and expect to win the Kentucky Derby” a statement that could be interpreted as a xenophobic comment aimed towards a particular nationality.
Several pro-immigration groups fired back after the March for Jobs rally.
“Playing a racial blame game in which immigrants are singled out as the cause of minority unemployment may be politically expedient,” said Walter Ewing, Senior Researcher at the Immigration Policy Center.
“It doesn’t hold water when it comes to evidence. The fact is that minorities living in high-immigration cities tend to have lower unemployment and higher wages than minorities in low-immigration cities. Immigrants create jobs; they don’t steal them,” added Ewing.
“The forces behind anti-immigrant laws are the same groups and politicians attacking the voting rights and civil rights advancements made by African-Americans,” said Tia Oso, Arizona Organizer for the Black Alliance for Just Immigration.
“It is important for African-Americans to recognize that we have much in common with people of color, both documented and undocumented with our history of being economically exploited, marginalized and discriminated against. We must unite to demand economic and social justice for all people, and not be divided by the manipulative and false political rhetoric that BALA is using.”