History Ignored: MLK, and wife, were against illegal immigration

I’ve read several pieces today that follow along the standard “what would MLK think if he was alive” theme. However, despite immigration being at the forefront of today’s political conversation, all of them ignore that MLK was against illegal immigration and that other civil rights leaders opposed illegal immigration (and legal immigration) primarily for its negative impact on black wages and employment.

Here is the 1991 letter to congress from Coretta Scott King (as Vice-President of the Black Leadership Forum and President of the Martin Luther King Jr. Center) to advocate for harsher penalties for employers who hire illegal aliens. Her accurate concern was that illegal aliens were depressing the wages of low-skilled American citizens in poverty, which were (and still are) disproportionately black.

Case in point; although once numbering in the thousands, there are almost no black janitors today in Los Angeles. Below is an excerpt from a NYTimes piece regarding a janitor strike in 2000.

Union leaders said wages for janitorial workers in Los Angeles have declined in real terms from the equivalent of $13 an hour in the early 1980’s to an average of $6.80 today, as the face of janitorial labor here has changed in the past two decades from largely American-born blacks to foreign-born Hispanics. Union leaders say the shift is a result of Los Angeles’s status as a magnet for immigrant labor. Union leaders said janitors in Los Angeles earned less than unionized janitors in any other major city.

(As a slight aside, pre-Trump running for president, the NYTimes routinely published articles that would be unthinkable for them to do today: Unskilled Workers Lose Out To Immigrants , Illegal Aliens Depress Wages for Some. Either I’m crazy or that’s interesting).

The fight over migration and wages and jobs is why Martin Luther King Jr. supported Cesar Chavez, the latter who was vehemently against all immigration on the basis that cheap labor undermined his ability to raise wages for his union members. A common sentiment to earlier voices such as Booker T. Washington and Frederick Douglas.

Clarence Jones, an advisor and speechwriter to MLK, believes he would respond to the recent immigration debate by saying, “Before you make it easier for the unfortunate of other countries to come here, consider the cost of your actions on the less fortunate of the country whose Constitution you’ve sworn to uphold.”

Jeff Bezos just pledged $33 million for DACA recipients to attend college yet I can’t find a similar gesture from him for African Americans. Sanctuary city after sanctuary city has given funds to provide lawyers to illegal aliens. Governors are pardoning illegal aliens to prevent them from being deported but not blacks with identical crimes. Illegal aliens attend schools that are (or were) overwhelmingly black. California is proposing to spend $1 billion to give health care to illegal alien adults. To add insult to injury, Latino gangs in Los Angeles, such as Azusa 13, and 204th St Gang engage in the targeted murder, firebombing and harassment of blacks. Every second congress spends on illegal immigration is a second not focusing on US citizens. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that allowing DACA recipients to remain in the US will cost $25 billion.

And so on, and so forth.

Let’s be honest. Martin Luther King Jr. had a dream but it didn’t include $25 billion for DREAMers.

Thank you for reading. Don’t forget the hyperlinks. Feel free tell me why I’m crazy – Nick

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