Among the speakers were two from Alabama — Sen. Jeff Sessions and Rep. Mo Brooks. It is not news when Sessions, R-Mobile, and Brooks, R-Huntsville, speak out against immigration reform and its “amnesty” provision. Both have done so in the past — vigorously.
What is news is that after years of being not-particularly friendly to causes advanced by African-Americans, these two Alabamians would appear, center stage, at a rally sponsored by a black organization. The issue that brings them together is jobs.
Sessions, Brooks and the BALA argue that the immigration bill will take jobs from black workers. Sessions, speaking to the crowd, disagreed with those who have argued there is a shortage of workers.
“There isn’t a shortage of workers in America,” he reportedly said. “There is a shortage of jobs.” The logical conclusion, and one endorsed by the BALA, is that if undocumented workers were sent home, those jobs would open up for Americans, especially black Americans. It is not so simple.
The jobs illegal immigrants hold are not jobs most Americans want. Even if they were, most of those jobs are not where the unemployed live, or can they get to them. The facts notwithstanding, BALA, Sessions and Brooks believe Congress needs to reject immigration reform. That done, the undocumented will leave (or be rounded up), jobs will open and the unemployed will flock to them. If they don’t, a cut in benefits will nudge them into the job market. But the rally was about more than who would benefit if the immigration reform act is blocked.
Attendees also denounced those who would benefit if the act passed. According to Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, three kinds of people supported this sort of immigration reform: "Elitists who want cheap labor to clean their houses and mow their lawns, then you have power brokers politically who know it’s cheap votes, and then you have employers of cheap labor who want more cheap labor."
According to The Daily Caller, a conservative website, Sessions echoed this, telling the crowd that the immigration bill favored CEOs over workers. It is not often that Republicans play the class-warfare card in this way. Who was there that day?
Depending on the news accounts, the crowd was made up of “thousands of grassroots activists” or a few hundred protesters at a “Tea Party event with black organizers.” However, everyone seemed to agree that the speakers were “arch-arch-conservative starlets” — a group that now includes Jeff Sessions and Mo Brooks.
NOTE: This editorial was amended on July 18, 2013, to correct the quotation attributed to Rep. Steve King.