The Los Angeles Times recently wrote about Ted Hayes and his attempt to rally African Americans against illegal immigration. Mr. Hayes started out as a homeless advocate in Los Angeles, but when he showed some interest in immigration control, immigration-reform activists eagerly adopted him. Minuteman groups that feared being called racists helped Mr. Hayes start the Crispus Attucks Minuteman Brigade, and the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) set him up with something called Choose Black America.
As the Times pointed out, even Mr. Hayes himself admits his work has been a complete failure. Not only has he failed to attract blacks to his cause, he has lost the support of many left-wing white allies.
I once met Mr. Hayes at a Minuteman rally in Washington, D.C., in the summer of 2006—and was shocked by his appearance. He was in dreadlocks and a Rasta cap, and wore a chain with a large image of Africa attached to it. As it turned out, he nearly sank the rally single-handedly.
Like so many immigration-control gatherings, this one attracted the usual group of loud, unkempt, “anti-racist” activists. All the Minutemen wisely stayed away from them, knowing that any altercation would be blamed on them—that is to say, everyone but Mr. Hayes, who shoved a protester right in front of a news camera.
The only thing that prevented a PR disaster was Mr. Hayes’s outlandish appearance. Television commentator Lou Dobbs, who is a strong campaigner for immigration control, got hold of the film and showed it on his program, thinking Mr. Hayes was an open-borders activist. You can hardly blame Mr. Dobbs; anyone would have thought this aggressive, wild-looking character was a lefty.
There may be a larger message in all this.
Opposition to mass immigration comes from across the political spectrum, and there are even some people on the left who are on our side. However, the base of the movement is white Americans who do not want a culturally alien underclass taking over their neighborhoods and schools.
Many such white people see blacks as a greater threat than Hispanics. With a few exceptions such as teenage pregnancy rates, on almost all indices of social failure, blacks are a bigger problem than Hispanics. Although they speak English, in some respects they are more culturally alien than Mexicans, and even the staunchest immigration-control activists have to admit that many Hispanics work hard. The current tidal wave of Hispanics is a dire threat to our way of life, but many whites see blacks as a bigger problem, especially in places that do not yet have large numbers of Hispanics.
That is why I think trying to join forces with the likes of Ted Hayes—who first came to prominence by setting up shanty towns for the homeless in the middle of Los Angeles—will alienate or at best confuse our natural following. It is a little like trying to work with the Bloods and Crips because they don’ t like MS-13 and the Latin Kings.
Mr. Hayes is not the only black who is opposed to illegal immigration, and not one has established a real following among other blacks. Nor have white activists. Both the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) and Numbers USA—the two biggest anti-immigration groups along with FAIR—have bent over backwards to promote blacks. Both have placed advertisements in major newspapers on the harm immigration has done to blacks, and CIS has sponsored congressional testimony and studies on the danger immigration poses to blacks.
None of this has attracted blacks to the cause, nor has it won any credit with the left. Shayla Nunnally, a black professor at the University of Connecticut, says black activists are being co-opted by groups “who may not have the African-American community’s best interests in mind.” She says this leads to ” minorities fighting minorities,” while “fighting the overall oppression isn’t being addressed.” Like so many liberals, she thinks all non-whites must unite against the real oppressor: the white man.
This is the Southern Poverty Law Center’s line. It says black activists like Mr. Hayes are just “pawns in [the racists’] game.” It recently listed FAIR as a hate group.
In fact, blacks have every reason to be more opposed even than whites to illegal immigration. They compete directly with low-wage immigrants for welfare, jobs, and classroom space, and they are not the ones who save a buck by hiring Mexican day labor at $7.00 an hour. At the same time, blacks have no qualms about explicitly pushing their racial interests. They oppose anything they think is bad for blacks, and Mexican immigration is bad for them.
However, nothing indicates blacks will contribute much to the anti-immigration movement, much less lead it. Blacks outpoll whites in support for school vouchers and in opposition to gay marriage and abortion, but this does not translate into a useful role in any of those movements either.
Immigration-control advocates never seem to get over the delusion that blacks will eventually rally to the cause. This is why Tom Tancredo was the only Republican presidential candidate to speak to the NAACP. Blacks should be carrying Mr. Tancredo around on their shoulders, but they pay him no attention at all. The congressman’s support came almost exclusively from whites.
Smart conservatives learned long ago that blacks have essentially no political role outside of the narrow band of issues the liberal establishment sets aside for them. Blacks have always blindly followed “leaders” who are aligned with the left wing of the Democratic Party. Those leaders also have an interest in increasing Hispanic political power in order to entrench their anti-white policies. Many have spent their entire careers blaming whites for anything and everything. This either blinds them to threats from anyone else, or makes them incapable of seeking white allies even if they see the threat. There are no black congressmen in the Immigration Reform Caucus. Don’t expect one any time soon.
It would be logical—it would even be helpful—if ordinary blacks would turn on the demagogues, and do something in their own interests that was actually in ours as well. Don’t count on it. Massive outreach by Republicans and conservatives has had little success on any front, has long since passed the point of diminishing returns.