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African-Americans drowning in wave of illegal immigration

Published Jan. 31, 2003, in the Houston Chronicle

THE black community has made great strides in the last few decades. Racism has certainly not been eradicated, but it is no longer accepted with a wink and a nod as it once was. We are proud to see Secretary of State Colin Powell, even when we do not agree with everything he does. The same with Condoleezza Rice, the president's national security adviser, and many others.

That's the good news.

The bad news is that in some regions we black folks are so overwhelmed by the huge numbers of immigrants that we are being displaced in our schools, jobs and neighborhoods.

That may seem a harsh thing for a black person to say against brown people, but I don't see it that way. I am an American, proud of both my nation and my race. What I see in my community of South Central Los Angeles -- where I have lived nearly all my life -- is thousands of Mexicans who care nothing about our traditions and culture, and only want to impose their way on us. That's not immigration, that is invasion.

It is sad what has happened in my neighborhood. This was a respectable, blue-collar area of hard-working black folks living in their bungalows and going to their jobs. In just a couple decades it has become almost entirely Mexican. They live several families to a three-bedroom house and keep chickens in the yard, but the city doesn't care about the zoning violations or the noise of having so many crowded into a small space.

According to the Census Bureau, nearby Watts is now 60 percent Hispanic, and it was previously the black community on the West Coast. No longer.

The immigration situation is really hard on our young people. A 17-year-old kid on my street couldn't get a job at McDonald's because he didn't speak Spanish. Another young neighbor boy was thrown into a bilingual classroom at age 8 and was forced to listen to Spanish all day long. His six-hour school day was turned into three hours. When his mother asked for an English-only class, she was told "there are none."

Would you believe that I, a black man, have been called a racist many times for speaking up against this invasion? I have a radio program on the subject and therefore hear from a lot of people, even some in Mexico.

When they call me a racist, I put this question to them: What if a hundred thousand Vietnamese were suddenly dropped into Guadalajara? And what if those newcomers didn't speak Spanish, and further insisted that their children be taught in Vietnamese? What would you think if they were happy to work for half the normal wages for any job they could get, thereby putting thousands of your local Guadalajarans out of work? Would it be racist to say there was a problem?

When people of good will and good sense hear the situation put that way, nearly all understand and respect my viewpoint.

Now if only they would listen in Washington. America's political leaders are the problem. They have been selling out this great nation for real and imaginary political benefits while ignoring the dangers. Even after Sept. 11, nothing has been done to plug up our borders. Another terrorist attack could be 10 times worse, and it would likely happen because Congress and the president learned nothing about the need to keep the nation's borders secure.

If I sound angry, you hear right. Like other Americans, I want immigration to be legal, controlled and reduced. But as a black American, I see that the burden my people must carry is heavier than for many others. I am sure that if Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., were alive, he would understand the fundamental unfairness to the black community of allowing more immigration than the nation can handle.


Anderson is an auto mechanic living in South Central Los Angeles. He is the host of The Terry Anderson Show on radio station KRLA airing on Sunday nights. He testified before Congress in 1999 about the effects of mass immigration on his community. Anderson can be e-mailed at