Exclusive -- Black American Leadership Alliance Founder: 'Front Group' Accusations 'Preposterous'
The founder of the Black American Leadership Alliance (BALA) told Breitbart News that recent charges, most recently leveled on Friday by the Daily Beast, that the organization is a "front" group for anti-immigration groups are "preposterous."
Leah Durant, a former immigration attorney with the U.S. Department of Justice who founded BALA, emphasized that the organization's primary concern was the impact the Senate's immigration bill would have on low-skilled American workers, which she said were disproportionately found in black communities. The group, she said, is not a "token" or "front" group as opponents have claimed.
"The assertion that we are a front group is preposterous," Durant told Breitbart News. "Anyone who looks into the backgrounds of our members will see that BALA is supported by individuals, many of whom have spent their lifetimes fighting for civil rights and addressing concerns in the black community."
Durant also noted that, as a black woman, she would not associate with people if they were indeed racist as some media outlets are trying to portray them as. She claimed the group is suddenly being attacked because proponents of amnesty are afraid that a coalition of conservatives and liberals from all working class backgrounds and races will threaten their narrative that only bigots can oppose "comprehensive immigration reform."
"Recently there have been some attacks on the Black American Leadership Alliance by some in the media who have peddled misleading or even completely false information about our group, it's members, or why and when our coalition was formed," she told Breitbart News. "Why would individuals pushing amnesty for illegal immigrants try their best to denigrate us?"
"It is because they are afraid of the power of a very focused and bi-partisan group of determined Americans from diverse ethnic, economic, and political backgrounds who stand together for the sole purpose of putting an end to illegal immigration and promoting the interests of America and American citizens first," Durant explained.
BALA will hold the "DC March for Jobs" rally on July 15, and Breitbart News will exclusively cover the event in its entirety live for five hours. Breitbart News Executive Chairman Stephen K. Bannon will host the broadcast.
Bannon will be joined by David Webb, of The David Webb Show on Sirius XM Patriot channel 125, and Breitbart's Sonnie Johnson. They will cover the rally, which will unite conservatives and progressives who are opposed to the Senate's immigration bill because of the devastating impact it will have on working class Americans. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) will keynote the event. Rep. Steve King (R-IA) and former Rep. Allen West (R-FL) will also be featured speakers.
Durant told Breitbart News that BALA "is comprised of leaders in the black community and experts from various disciplines who have banded together to address the astoundingly high rates of black unemployment and the lack of opportunities for blacks and other low skilled workers now experienced by many." She said BALA "consists of a diverse group of many individuals such as bishops, pastors, community leaders, business owners--many of whom have had no background in immigration at all."
Durant said the reason "we have come together is because of our core concern about high rates of unemployment, and the impact that adding millions more low skilled workers at a time when nearly 22 million Americans are out of work"--as the Senate bill would require--would have on low-skilled workers, a predominate number of whom, Durant reiterates, are black.
Proponents of the Senate's immigration bill, who often do not mention how it would impact workers in black communities, have asserted that BALA is a front group for organizations they deem controversial--like FAIR and Center for Immigration Studies, which recently released a report that documented that all of the net gains in employment over the last 13 years in the United States have gone to foreign-born workers.
The Daily Beast on Friday tried to characterize BALA as being a "token front" for anti-immigration organizations and cherry-picked controversial statements from some BALA members. It highlighted supposed "questionable" associations, such as a BALA member who starred in an advertisement that said, “Black Americans have lost hundreds of thousands of jobs to foreign workers willing to work for next to nothing. And the hiring of low-skilled immigrants is responsible for 40% of the decline in employment among Black American men."
The outlet also labeled the group as "shady" and seemed to criticize BALA for having a singular message: "Immigration is killing the black community." The Daily Beast also pointed out that Durant also serves as the executive director for Progressives for Immigration Reform, a group which seeks to "halt" the current comprehensive immigration reform legislation because it is not in the national interest. The group reportedly ran a national ad campaign last year "criticizing the government for issuing so many green cards and calling on leaders to 'reduce mass immigration until all Americans are back to work.'"
Durant emphasized to Breitbart News that Americans of different political persuasions and backgrounds will be rallying against the bill because of the impact it will have on working class Americans, particularly those at the bottom rungs of the economic ladder.
"Our position, that immigration and amnesty programs reduce job opportunities and wages for America's poor is not new, and has been found by professors hailing from some of our country's most well respected universities; such as George Borjas from Harvard University, Professor Vernon Briggs of Cornell University and even the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights," she told Breitbart News.