Illegal immigration is what shut down the government

Opinion: Arlene Jones

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By Arlene Jones

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As of early morning, Jan. 22, the U.S. government had partially shut down because our Congress hadn't yet voted to fund it. Meanwhile, senators who are supposed to represent the American people made the cause of foreign nationals their major priority. 

I don't hide the fact that I oppose illegal immigration. My stance goes against the current tide that has everybody singing Kumbaya and making the young people (dreamers) who are illegally here on par with the second coming of Christ. Those like myself who remember history know that in the mid-1960s, Dr. Martin L. King Jr., along with United Farm Workers leader Cesar Chavez, marched on the border to protest illegal aliens being encouraged to come into the country and then gain work as strikebreakers.

Many forces have encouraged, and benefitted from, illegal immigration. Certain folks currently in black leadership (or with a bully pulpit) have tried to waylay the conversation and make it seem as if illegal immigration hasn't hurt the black community in terms of employment. I even watched a black economist from Howard University attempt to maneuver a conversation where he freely juxtaposed legal immigration with black unemployment as opposed to sticking with the topic, which is illegal immigration and black unemployment. And even more incredulous was his ability to tell black people that seeing jobs once held by black people and now being done by Hispanics, even within the black community, is a figment of our imagination.

Two of the most famous and well respected leaders in the black community have spoken out against illegal immigration, prior to the subject becoming the racially charged issue it has morphed into. They knew over 20 years ago how it would hurt the black community. 

The first person to actively speak out against illegal immigration was the late Coretta Scott King. In 1991, she penned a letter to Senator Orin Hatch asking him to continue to maintain sanctions on employers who hired people without authorization to be in this country. The letter, signed by King and eight others who were heads of organizations, said: "We are concerned, Senator Hatch, that your proposed remedy … will cause another problem — the revival of the pre-1986 discrimination against black and brown U.S. and documented workers, in favor of cheap labor — the undocumented worker."

The other proponent of restricting immigration was the late Congresswoman Barbara Jordan. Prior to her death from leukemia on Jan. 17, 1996, she had been the chairwoman of the U.S. Commission on Immigration Reform. Sadly, her death put a halt to a true bipartisan effort. One of the keystone goals of the committee she led, and one that she promoted, was reducing illegal immigration by no longer allowing what we now call chain migration (the ability of siblings to immigrate because they are related to citizens and legal immigrants). When others say that, they are quickly and automatically labeled "racist."

I have no clue what deal will be worked out for the dreamers. Many of them are not really children but grown adults well into their 30s. Those advocating for them vehemently argue that they were raised here and this is the only country they know while ignoring that the parents who came here illegally left the only country they knew and didn't know the language here.

There are many things we all need to monitor as the deals are struck. The first is what about the tens of thousands who didn't apply for DACA because they can't speak English, or didn't graduate high school (major criteria). And secondly, if the males never registered for Selective Service at age 18 or after being in the country for 30 days as the law requires (legal students and tourists are exempt).

Pay attention, America!

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