A group made up of longtime anti-immigrant activists claiming that immigration reform will hurt the African-American community is working on a number of fronts in opposition to the Senate’s immigration reform bill. The group, the Black American Leadership Alliance (BALA), recently changed its name from the African American Leadership Council (AALC).
Using its original name, the group held a press conference in April announcing its opposition to the Senate’s immigration reform bill. BALA’s members, such as activists Frank Morris and Leah Durant, are closely tied to anti-immigrant groups founded by or with the help of racist John Tanton, the architect of the modern-day anti-immigrant movement. Morris currently sits on the boards of the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) and the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), both founded by Tanton, and another anti-immigrant front group, Progressives for Immigration Reform (PFIR). Durant is the executive director of PFIR and is a former attorney with the Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI), the legal arm of FAIR.
Since its initial press conference, the group issued an open letter on June 3 to the Senate’s bi-partisan “Gang of Eight,” the Congressional Black Caucus and senators from states with high rates of black unemployment urging them to acknowledge the “damaging impact mass immigration has on low-skilled workers” and recognize “the harmful impact that S. 744 would have on low skilled workers, particularly those in the black community.”
Many of the signatories of the letter attended and spoke at the group’s press conference in April. One of the signatories, Tom Broadwater, the national chair of the group Americans4Work, appeared as a guest on a webinar hosted by the anti-immigrant group NumbersUSA on June 4. During this call, Broadwater stated, “We need our jobs, we need our people, our American citizens to have jobs. Legal immigrants, illegal immigrants, they’re all bad as far as we are concerned for America.”
On July 15, BALA is organizing a “DC March for Jobs” rally in Washington, DC, intended “to help to stop Congress' amnesty push.” BALA’s website says that the group will “demand that our leaders reject amnesty, and pass immigration policies that put black Americans back to work.” It remains to be seen how many activists BALA can mobilize for the event.
The talking points and tactics BALA is using in an attempt to derail the Senate’s immigration reform bill are no different from the broader anti-immigrant movement. Throughout its history, the movement has created front groups opposed to immigration reform, claiming that it will have a negative effect on minorities.