Earlier this week, a group calling itself the Black American Leadership Alliance (BALA) sent a letter to members of the Senate’s Gang of Eight and to members of the Congressional Black Caucus urging them to abandon immigration reform, claiming that reform would lead to “higher unemployment, more poverty, and a lower standard of living for many in the black community.”
BALA didn’t provide much information about itself in its press release…in fact, the group doesn’t seem to have existed until very recently (one indication is that it joined Facebook on May 13). The Anti-Defamation League reports that this is because BALA is just the latest incarnation of a shifting series of front groups for the anti-immigrant nativist group FAIR, which has been trying for years to drive a wedge between African Americans and Latinos. Until its recent name change, BALA was known as the African American Leadership Council (AALC), which itself, according to our friends at the Center for a New Community, was “simply a redressing of FAIR’s old front group, Choose Black America.”
In fact, the Center for a New Community notes, BALA seems to be running entirely through another FAIR front group, one of many stemming from white nationalist John Tanton, misleadingly called “Progressives for Immigration Reform” (PFIR). In a fact sheet on PFIR [pdf], the Center notes, “PFIR emblazons its public image with symbols and rhetoric that profess support for environmental causes. But under this veneer, PFIR faults the ills of American society on ‘mass migration,’ and in fact, immigrants in general—sharing more with the bigotry of the far-right than any ‘progressive’ cause.”
A look at the twelve signers of BALA’s letter gives a clear picture of the new group. Of the twelve signers, two are longtime anti-immigrant activists entrenched in the Tanton network – including groups like PFIR, FAIR and the Center for Immigration Studies– and four are vocal conservative extremists who have appeared on these pages before:
Frank Morris, who identifies himself as a former director of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation. But these days, Morris is tied up in a number of Tanton-connected anti-immigrant groups, including sitting on the boards of FAIR and the Center for Immigration Studies and serving as the vice president of PFIR.
Leah V. Durant, who left her position as a staff attorney at FAIR’s Immigration Reform Law Institute [pdf], which writes anti-immigrant laws, to become the executive director of PFIR when it launched in 2008 [pdf].
Reverend Jesse Lee Peterson, a columnist and talk show host who:
- Claims President Obama is “racist” against white people because his mother “hated being white.”
- Claimed “racist civil-rights leaders” used the Trayvon Martin tragedy to “[get] even with whites and gain political power.”
- Complained that Michael Jackson’s memorial service was all about “lowering the value of the hated white man.”
- Said President Obama was elected because “Satan is targeting the U.S.”
- Accused black clergy who support Obama of “leading their congregations to hell.”
Charles Butler, a Chicago-area talk show host who:
- Claimed Mexican immigrants “are not interested in becoming Americans” and warned, “This new wave of economic-driven illegal immigrant is different than prior immigrants, they are about changing America as we know it from within.”
- Blamed women for being single mothers because, “Well, these women chose to have babies on their own on the booty call.”
- Blames black leaders for the “steady decline and decimation of the black community.”
Kevin Jackson, a radio host who:
- Complains society is being run by “women who look like men, act worse than men, and who have essentially sacrificed their womanhood at the alter [sic] of ‘achievement.’”
- In case it’s not clear, he’s really not a fan of the women’s movement: “There is a war against beautiful women, and it’s being waged by the Women’s Movement, ironically….Let’s face it, the women who rise through the ranks in Leftist politics look like dudes. In fact, if you put high-ranking female political Plutopians against their “male” counterparts, it would be the CHICKS WITH…well…CUPS, and I’m not talking bras. ….Women on the Left secretly wish to build a society of powerful ugly women…to match how they feel (and are) inside. A beautiful Liberal woman (not that I’ve ever seen one) might as well be fitted for knee pads and given Bill Clinton’s ‘How to Pleasure a President While On Your Knees Under a Desk” manual and a box of Cuban cigars.’
- Claims that President Obama has "failed to unite blacks and whites at all, and in fact has taken America back into the 1860′s except now whites are enslaved to blacks."
Vernon Robinson, who ran for congress in North Carolina last year, giving us this ad:
The members of BALA are entitled to voice their opinions, but they should be mistaken neither for a mainstream group nor for a fresh voice in the immigration reform debate.
With research by Tory Roberts