What's Behind a 'Black' Anti-Immigration Group

Activists say a black anti-immigration movement is gathering steam. But it seems to be largely the creation of white people.

Black activist Terry Anderson shared the podium in Las Vegas with Rick Oltman (above), who at other moments gave similar speeches to a white supremacist group.
(Todd Bigelow)

FAIR Trade
CBA is billed as a "coalition of business, academic and community leaders" who believe that "Blacks, in particular, have lost economic opportunities, seen their kids' schools flooded with non-English speaking students, and felt the socio-economic damage of illegal immigration more acutely than any other group." It's portrayed as a grassroots organization, but it hardly sprang from the community. Tiny type at the bottom of CBA's home page reads, "A project of FAIR."

That is not a new tactic for the best-known anti-immigration organization in the United States. Other, similar front groups set up by FAIR include the Coalition for the Future of the American Worker, which claims to be a coalition of blue-collar groups, and You Don't Speak for Me ("American Latino Voices Speaking Out Against Illegal Immigration"), the Hispanic version of CBA.

Though he's critical of CBA, Earl Ofari Hutchinson is no open-borders advocate. Several times this year in his Pasadena Weekly column, Hutchinson has written about black frustration with illegal immigration and has even warned of the potential dangers Latino immigration presents to black Americans. "The leap in Latino voting strength and the likely prospect that Democrats and Republicans can bag even more voters from the rising number of legal and illegal immigrants comes at a bad time for black politicians," Hutchinson wrote last April, about a month before the CBA press conference.

Hutchinson tells the Intelligence Report that not long after that column came out, FAIR offered to fly him to D.C. and put him up in a nice hotel if he would join their press conference, pose for a photo, and agree to be identified as a founding member of CBA. Hutchinson said no. "They assumed that essentially I was on their team, and I would be an effective advocate for their point of view as an African-American spokesperson," Hutchinson says. He rejected the offer, he says, because of FAIR's ties to white supremacist groups and because he didn't want to be associated with the anti-multiculturalism attitudes of FAIR founder John Tanton, who wrote of non-white immigration in 1986: "Will the present majority peaceably hand over its political power to a group that is simply more fertile? ... As Whites see their power and control over their lives declining, will they simply go quietly into the night? Or will there be an explosion?"

Terry Anderson has no such qualms about Tanton. In fact, records show that Anderson has received upwards of $10,000 from Tanton's U.S. Inc. to fund his radio show. "I know John Tanton. I've met him on many occasions," Anderson tells the Intelligence Report. "What somebody does in front of you and what they do behind you is always going to be two different things. I just know that he has founded an organization that is at the forefront of this problem and without them we would be a lot worse off. ... If Tanton is a racist and he says illegal immigration is wrong for this country, does that make his statement wrong? No."

Coalition of the Willing
Five of the 11 founding members of CBA were interviewed for this article. All but one said they had no idea who the other individuals in their "coalition" were before they arrived in D.C. for the press conference. James Clingman, a Cincinnati columnist and businessman, said that if he had known, he would have never shown up. "Choose Black America was just the banner under which we had a press conference," says Clingman, who writes on economics. "There are people involved [in CBA] who I am just diametrically opposed to, like [far-right Christian evangelical] Jesse Lee Peterson and those other neo-conservative, black so-called leaders."

Clingman says that with the exception of his personal friend, Claud Anderson, he has had no contact with any of the other CBA founders or with FAIR since the press conference. According to the rest of the CBA founders interviewed, there have been no meetings, no phone calls, and no other organizational advances since May.

The chairperson of CBA is identified in press materials as Frank Morris — the same longtime FAIR member who in 2004 ran for the board of directors of the Sierra Club as part of a well-organized but ultimately unsuccessful attempt to convert the environmental powerhouse into an anti-immigration organization. Morris did not return three phone calls seeking comment for this story.

A primary FAIR aim in creating the CBA has been to convince black Americans that Latino immigrants will take their jobs or significantly depress their wages, despite a preponderance of evidence to the contrary. Even a study by Harvard economist George Borjas, widely considered an ally by anti-immigration forces, only showed a wage-lowering effect (and a modest one at that) on the least skilled and poorest educated workers, and many other scholars dispute that finding. A new study by the nonpartisan Pew Hispanic Center found "no apparent relationship between the growth of foreign workers with less education and the employment outcome of native workers with the same low level of education."

Such research doesn't sway the opinion of CBA founding member Claud Anderson. The president of PowerNomics, an inner-city development corporation, concedes that he went to the press conference knowing nothing about FAIR, but he says he came away a fervent FAIR supporter. The group, he says, is pushing the right agenda. "You got silly naïve black leadership who don't understand that those people [Latino immigrants] are not coming here to get along with black folks. They are coming here to compete with black folks."

Asked what the government should do about the estimated 12 million illegal immigrants now living in the U.S., Claud Anderson told the Intelligence Report: "Put their asses on the boat and send them back."