Is Ted Hayes the New Ward Connerly?

Los Angeles Sentinel, Commentary, Dr. Anthony Asadullah Samad Posted: Jul 15, 2007

Editor's Note: Republican and former homeless advocate Ted Hayes has become the 'Black Face' of the anti-immigrant movement. He is on record stating “illegal immigration is the biggest threat to Blacks since slavery.”

Illegal immigration reform is a salient issue in America today. Particularly among the Republicans who consider this issue “a border crisis.” Congress’ effort to legislate a solution was met with a last minute Republican filibuster stalled a viable solution to addressing the 12 million resident aliens in the country, a measured naturalization process for those who qualified. It was said that it was too much like amnesty. But now the Republicans have pulled out their latest secret weapon, former homeless advocate now Black Republican, Ted Hayes. Hayes, who came to the nation’s attention as a homeless advocate in the 1990s, has abandoned the homeless movement that has taken on a disproportionately African American hue (at a time when Los Angeles is the homeless capital of the nation) for a new “Black movement.” Illegal immigration.

Hayes, the only homeless advocate I ever knew to have Laker floor seats, and the only one to take homeless people on a field hockey trip to Europe, never engaged in anything “Black” when he was a homeless advocate. But now he wants to be the African American voice standing arm and arm with the Minutemen movement, border patrol civilians who take it as their civil right to defend their property. Here’s a man who claims to have no property, representing (or used to represent) property-less people, suddenly looking to protect the rights of property owners and national citizenship. What’s wrong with this picture?

Or maybe the more relevant question is, what’s behind it? Ted Hayes, coincidentally, has become a Republican and has interjected himself in a fight that has a racial element—White conservative “minuteman” protecting America from illegal invasion that assaults their “American values.” Though Mexican immigrants represent less than forty percent of all the illegal immigrants that enter the nation each year, they’re the only ones being called out. And the Southern border is the only one being “walled off” while the Northern border remains open to the same terrorist threats.

There’s something openly racist about this. So what better way to hide the hypocrisy of this contradiction than to interject a counter-racial component, that Blacks are being hurt by illegal immigration. The same argument, and the same strategy was used a dozen years ago, when Affirmative Action came under attack.

Being attacked by Whites made it a race issue that would be perceived as “racial” so Republican conservatives came up with a Black face to sell a bad bill of goods—that affirmative action was bad for everybody, including Blacks. Ward Connerly became the face of the anti-affirmative action movement and the “colorblind” politic has led to the deconstruction of affirmative action. Ted Hayes and his “Choose Black” politic is becoming to the anti-immigration movement what Ward Connerly’s “Civil Rights” initiative was to the Anti-Affirmative Action movement. Connerly is paid, by conservative think tanks and Republican policy forums, over a million dollars a year to overturn affirmative action state by state. How much is a homeless man being paid to go around the nation to round (or rouse) up Blacks against immigration reform?

Ted Hayes is on record stating that “illegal immigration is the biggest threat to Blacks since slavery.” But we know the biggest threat to Blacks has been this colorblindness that Republican conservatives use these new Black Republicans to espouse policies that undermine the progress of the historical race disparities African Americans have spent 140 years trying to make up. And with GOP support, suddenly Ted Hayes is “Black” again.

For the last year, as immigrants have pressed the citizenship question and others have tried to press African Americans into a position on this, I’ve insisted that this is not our issue. There is nothing to be lost, or gained, in African Americans coming out for, or against, immigration reform. There are more issues that impact African Americans nationally that we could be vocal about. Immigration reform is not one of them. It’s an issue for conservatives concerned about illegal immigration’s impact on national security. For social and fiscal moderates, it’s the economy and immigration’s impact on the suppression of wages. Both are legitimate issues. However, for poor people—the issue has been around the competition for jobs and the illusion that immigrants are taking jobs from good hardworking Americans.

I say this position is illusionary because immigrants aren’t taking jobs from Blacks or anybody else. They make jobs where there are no jobs, and only take jobs for wages that nobody will work for, including Blacks. Moreover, Blacks and Latinos both are impacted by wage suppression that using illegal labor brings about. Attacking each other would benefit neither, and most Black and Latino groups recognize this.

So far, every time Hayes has showed up somewhere with his “Choose Black” rhetoric, he is met with greater number of unified Black and Latino groups working together to improve economic injustice in poor communities. If choosing “Black America” is the advocation, why would it be choose illegal immigration over the economic exploitation that promotes the wage suppression and wealth disparities that exploit both races. If Hayes wants to advocate for justice, why would he side with the injustice that continues to blame the poor for the nation’s problems when the top one percent of population hold 40 percent of the wealth? Maybe it’s because the pay is better to advocate against the poor and oppressed than it is to advocate with them. Hayes would have much more credibility advocating for the homeless.

But he’s given up the homeless gig for one that pays better, attacking immigrants and trying to interject Blacks in the conflict to deflect attention anyway from those who have issue with Mexican immigrants—but none of the other immigrants coming into the country. Hayes’ anti-immigration advocacy is a ploy that most Blacks aren’t buying into. But, like Ward Connerly before him, Hayes has been bought and sold to the anti-immigration forces as “the Blackface” in the movement. It’s worked before.

Dr. Anthony Asadullah Samad n is a national columnist, managing director of the Urban Issues Forum (www.urbanissuesforum.com) and author of the upcoming book, “Saving The Race: Empowerment Through Wisdom.” He can be reached at www.AnthonySamad.com.

Related Articles:

Banding Together for Immigrant Rights

Failure of Immigration Bill Could Lead to Racist Ordinances

Why Blacks March Against Illegal Immigration—And Why They Shouldn’t

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User Comments


Bettybb on Jul 15, 2007 at 19:02:57 said:

You have your facts wrong.

The comprehensive illegal immigration bill was a sham; all it did was full labor halls full of cheap labor for business (illegals, guest workers, argi workers, H1B visa etc). The provisions for border control were window dressing.

You doubt the Minutemen's American values? Yes America values the rule of law, one law for all. Not one prefential law for illegal aliens and one law for legal immigrants with less rights.

And it has been shown that illegal aliens are taking American jobs and depressing wages. Check out the Georgia study that just came out. And the meat packing plant that got raided? All jobs filled the next day with Americans. And the crops in Colorando that pro criminal illegals said would never get picked? Farmers hired the minimum security prisioners, who got paid, and it worked out fine.

And for your information, the republicans are talking about border, all borders, north, south and the coasts. All must be secure. But the bigget sieve is the southern border and it must be sealed.

Employers who use illegals aliens get a break cost wise, so it is unfair competititon. I believe someone has started a RICCO law suit which is appropriate. And don't forget all those nice illegal aliens who work so hard, broke the law coming in, and probably have stolen an American's identity in order to work. Two felonies.

Hayes has it right. America blacks were barred from returning to New Orleans. Illegals snuck in, took the jobs and have squatted and are refusing to leave.

Time to send them home.


G Rob on Jul 15, 2007 at 16:39:28 said:

Ted Hayes like Martin Luther King and Cesar Chavez before him have transcended their original cause to see the big picture. Martin Luther King's original goal of ending segregation and racial discrimination later became a poor peoples movement. Cesar Chavez's work unionizing Chicano farm workers caused him to advocate against illegal immigration.

What these men grew to see was that America was dominated by class politics even more than racial politics. Class and race became connected as the ruling class used 'divide and conquer' as a strategy to control the working class: Cause resentment between groups and they will blame their problems on each other rather than the ruling class. Minorities from poor parts of world were imported to drive down labor rates: First Africans as slave labor and now Mexicans as cheap labor. The latter are invited into the country by affluent employers desiring their cheap labor and politicians willing to look the other way and grant amnesty.

When Cesar Chavez advocated against illegal immigration, it was because he knew that cheap illegal labor was driving his farm workers' wages down. It did not matter that most of the illegal aliens were brown skinned, he was representing U.S. farm workers not a race.
Ted Hayes knows that homeless people are homeless, mostly because of there being a shortage of jobs paying a living wage. Illegal immigration is a major cause of low wages in the working class. It is simply supply and demand.

It is unfortunate that pro-Amnesty supporters have to play the race card when they can't find logical arguments to support their position. People of all races oppose amnesty. Supporters are either rich or tools of the rich.


Mary on Jul 15, 2007 at 13:05:14 said:

I think it\'s interesting how quickly you race hustlers have abandoned black Americans so quickly in order to favor a new, more numerous \"victim group.\"

I guess the numbers game is what matters after all.


Tita Grace on Jul 15, 2007 at 12:43:00 said:

The reason every American should be concerned with amnesty for 12 million plus illegals is not because of race but for the mere fact that our politicians and elected officials are not telling the American people. And that is: 12 million plus and the majority of their extended families are the poorest from their country of origin. The majority of them are illiterate, unskilled, uneducated and low-wage earners. If given amnesty to 12 million plus and their families they will immediately qualify for welfare, food stamps, school tuitions, housing subsidies and free medical. The very same things Americans are struggling to provide for their families and can't with rising fees and prices. But if given amnesty, these 12 million plus and their families will force Washington to raise taxes on Americans to help support them because the majority will be under the poverty level. Not only is that a burden for the American people but bringing in extended families who have disabled and ill families will also burden our Social Security Medicare and Medicaid programs. But our elected officials would rather keep this info out of the public's interest because of fear that they will be more protests over granting amnesty to 12 million plus illegals and their families.

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