Martin Luther King's Message Lost on Congressional Black Caucus

By Joe Guzzardi
July 19, 2013

Congress has a 15 percent approval rating. Those Americans who agree with its job performance have declined steadily since 2004 when favorability hit 45 percent.

For the most current example of why Congress fares so poorly with its constituents, consider the out-of-their-home state itinerary that many House representatives will embark upon later this month, just before the August recess begins.

To promote an as yet un-introduced House immigration bill that would legalized millions of illegal aliens and might eventually lead to citizenship, several representatives are traveling to New York. What’s described as a “bipartisan group of lawmakers”—in reality, all have a long-standing immigration advocacy history—will visit New York as part of a three-day, taxpayer funded “Becoming America” tour. Along the way, the representatives, including Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.), will attend events on Ellis Island, at the Museum of Jewish Heritage and the African Burial Ground National Monument. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a leading amnesty advocate, will host a Gracie Mansion breakfast. And, as is often the case on immigration boondoggles, leaders will speak (and have their pictures taken!) at a naturalization ceremony.

The complete list of lawmakers includes Joe Crowley (D-NY), Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fl.), Fred Upton (R-Mich.), Michael Grimm (R-N.Y.), Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), Lois Capps (D-Calif.), Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.), Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.), Jim McGovern (D-Mass.), Susan Davis (D-Calif.), Ann Kirkpatrick (D-Ariz.), Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) and Cantor.

Instead of traveling on a staged road show organized by immigration advocates, they should be in their home districts, listening to their constituents’ concerns. Back home, Americans are worried about unemployment, wage stagnation, the high cost of living and soaring university tuitions. A failure to reach an accord on liberalizing immigration laws doesn’t register.

The headline-grabbing immigration reform issue is strictly Beltway-driven, pushed by the Chamber of Commerce, big business, the Hispanic lobby as well as religious groups whose interests are motivated less by humanitarianism than by a desire to recruit new members and potential donors to their diminishing congregations. In Pennsylvania, my home state, and the neighboring states of West Virginia and Ohio, immigration reform is nowhere on the radar. The same holds true in most other states except possibly Texas, California and Arizona.

With Congress’ focus on what the right thing to do for illegal immigrants should be, the plight of unemployed Americans is overlooked. Most ignored are African-Americans who the Congressional Black Congress has abandoned.

Ironically, August will mark the 50th anniversary of the “March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom” during which Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., gave his "I Have a Dream" speech. The 1963 speech appealed to America’s conscience and helped produce the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Damning the immigration bill Charles Butler, a radio host and member of the Black American Leadership Alliance, pointed to the Census Bureau findings which show that by 2040, foreign-born workers will outnumber native-born workers. Butler wants to know why Congress and the White House have devastated black American workers whose unemployment rate is 15 percent, and devalued American citizenship in their non-stop efforts to legalize aliens.

Butler’s question is on the minds of Americans of every race and ethnicity. Getting an answer is tough when Congress is off on a pandering mission instead of home taking care of Americans’ business.

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Joe Guzzardi is a Californians for Population Stabilization Senior Writing Fellow whose columns have been syndicated since 1986. Contact him at joeguzzardi@capsweb.org

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