5/10 – WABE(Audio) – African-American leaders oppose immigration bill, but some don’t (2011-05-10)

WABE: African-American leaders oppose immigration bill, but some don’t (2011-05-10).

African-American leaders oppose immigration bill, but some don’t


(WABE)Illegal immigration is an issue that divides the African-American community. Many black leaders have opposed the controversial immigration bill that Governor Deal is expected to sign any day. But one major local black organization has not officially opposed the bill.

Victory for the World church is a mega-church off of North Hairston Rd. in Stone Mountain.
Working and middle class blacks make up the congregation. Immigration isn’t an issue that’s on top of the minds of the faithful, but it’s still an issue that Pastor Kenneth Samuel brings up in a recent sermon.

“Hispanics, they work under conditions that most black brothers and sisters I know wouldn’t even think about. Now, we’ll work in Kentucky Fried Chicken, but have you ever been to the chicken plants in Georgia?”

Some of the worshippers at Samuel’s church are concerned about the immigration bill recently passed by the state legislature. They say it will lead to racial profiling, it will divide Latino families. But not everyone agrees. Leon Brown thinks something needs to be done about illegal immigration.

“They are overloading the system. They’re using up the facilities and time and resources for people who are taxpayers.”

It’s not just the Stone Mountain congregation that has a mixed opinion about illegal immigration. Reverend Timothy McDonald is a board member and a past president of the Concerned Black Clergy of Metropolitan Atlanta. McDonald says most members oppose the immigration bill, but not all.

“Immigration is a controversial issue within the African-American community. We do have some members who are of the mindset that it takes jobs away from African-Americans. That’s their primary concern.”

The clergy hasn’t taken an official position on the immigration bill. Emory Political Science Professor Michael Leo Owens says some blacks may be reluctant to support immigrant rights because they feel black political power will be reduced. Owens gives an example from the major immigration rights marches in 2006.

“We saw lots of signs, and signs that said things like today we march, tomorrow we vote. And I think some African-Americans read that as a political threat.”

Owens says that while the black community may be somewhat divided on illegal immigration. He says there’s pretty much a consensus with African-American leaders that illegal immigration isn’t a major problem.

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