Has US Immigration Reached The Tipping Point?

By Donald A. Collins | 28 March 2014
Progressives for Immigration Reform

(Credit: Xomiele / Flickr / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

It should be no surprise to anyone why many African American leaders are steadfast in supporting President Obama, despite his abysmal record on immigration. As African Americans watch inner cities become ever more populated by illegal immigrants, they must be keenly aware of the pressures placed on their own constituencies.

 When will African Americans and the rest of us know when we have reached the tipping point on solving our immigration woes? In the famous book entitled “The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference” author Malcolm Gladwell defines a tipping point as “the moment of critical mass, the threshold, the boiling point.” The book seeks to explain and describe the “mysterious” sociological changes that mark everyday life. As Gladwell states, “ideas and products and messages and behaviors spread like viruses.”

Well before Bernstein’s musical “West Side Story” became famous, Americans knew that ethnicity counts in urban tribal gang fights. High unemployment rates among young black males in Washington, DC and elsewhere, ensures that murders occur frequently, as criminal means of making money are resorted to by those blocked from more conventional avenues of commerce.

It is easy to recall a list of sound historical reasons for why African American leaders continue their full support of our first partially black President. Who else would they be attracted to? In short, despite the fact that Lincoln emancipated slaves, the inducement for the majority of all African Americans to vote Republican has long been off the table.

Then there is the residual legacy of racism which for well into the 20th Century kept blacks from the kind of normal betterment enjoyed by whites from Europe who arrived in our earlier great migrations. The heavy hand of slavery had meant broken families, little education, and false claims of intellectual inferiority by some that resulted in a vicious cycle of non-achievement which still haunts many blacks today.

America is now blessed with many people of color who overcame the above challenges to serve in all aspects of American mainstream life. For example, many in addition to Obama serve in high political office in Washington, DC; Susan Rice, Eric Holder, and earlier under Bush 43, Condoleezza Rice, now a member of the Augusta National Golf Club. Media and business offer other high profile examples. In short, one can catalogue many reasons why most blacks for decades have seen the wisdom of being Democrats. Clearly the civil rights achieved by Dr. King and others in the last half of the 20th Century were hard fought and stingily obtained.

But remember, Dr. King and his valiant cohorts were only demanding their civil rights under our Constitution and Bill of Rights, not for the right to overpower our country without legal standing or any rights, which millions of aliens from other countries living in the US illegally now attempt to do!

And I would suspect that the tribal battles between blacks and Hispanics will not lessen with increased immigration. Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow Coalition is no longer common media currency. However, the immigration wave, which began in 1965 and accelerated in the past 2 decades to add both legal and illegal aliens of predominantly Hispanic origin, has put many African Americans, and others out of work.

In talking as I have with many African Americans about the immigration issue, I personally find there is a strong attitude for change from an open borders mentality to a much more realistic stance on the total numbers of people who should be admitted to the US each year. In fact, everyone now should get it!

The racial aspect of immigration, which is so often the only logical barb left to hurl at us real immigration reformers from such hate mongers as the Southern Poverty Law Center, now should have less and less impact with all Americans of every racial background, including blacks and Hispanics. But will it? Well, as the real unemployment or underemployment rate hovers stubbornly near ten percent and businesses hire machines to replace people at every opportunity, the whole attitude on this contentious immigration reform issue will, I predict, shortly reach what Malcolm Gladwell wrote about in his best seller, “The Tipping Point.” And it will not be solved with any version of the Senate bill S.744. Angry citizens have defeated open border amnesty bills misleadingly dubbed comprehensive immigration reform or CIR measures multiple times in the past several years.

I would argue that the accumulation of so many little things which came with the post 1965 immigration wave now need to be stressed to capture the high ground of sensibility about real immigration reform not only by white elites regarded with suspicion by many minorities, but by minority leaders who can see how these long term immigration trends are wronging their own. And this same point could well be made to US citizens of Hispanic origin. Too many immigrants are too many!

One reviewer of Gladwell’s book on Amazon notes that the author’s point is that very small changes in the context or quality of an idea (which he calls its “stickiness”) can trigger a dramatic epidemic of change in society. “In a given process or system some people matter more than others.” (p.19). “The success of any kind of social epidemic is heavily dependent on the involvement of people with a particular and rare set of social gifts.” (p.33).

Gladwell says there are 3 kinds of gifted people: Connectors, Mavens and Salespeople. “Sprinkled among every walk of life . . . are a handful of people with a truly extraordinary knack of making friends and acquaintances. They are Connectors.” (p. 41). “I always keep up with people.” (p. 44 quoting a “Connector”). “In the case of Connectors, their ability to span many different worlds is a function of something intrinsic to their personality, some combination of curiosity, self-confidence, sociability, and energy.” (p.49). “The point about Connectors is that by having a foot in so many different worlds they have the effect of bringing them all together.” (p.51). Gladwell tells us, “The word Maven comes from the Yiddish, and it means one who accumulates knowledge.” (p. 60). “The fact that Mavens want to help, for no other reason than because they like to help, turns out to be a very effective way of getting someone’s attention.” (p.67). “The one thing that a Maven is not is a persuader. To be a Maven is to be a teacher. But it is also, even more emphatically to be a student.” (p.69).

“There is also a select group of people — Salesmen — with the skills to persuade us when we are unconvinced of what we are hearing.” (p. 70). He goes on to describe an individual named Tom Gau who is a Salesman. “He seems to have some indefinable trait, something powerful and contagious and irresistible that goes beyond what comes out of his mouth, that makes people who meet him want to agree with him. It’s energy. It’s enthusiasm. It’s charm. It’s likability. It’s all those things and yet something more.” (p. 73).

African Americans abundantly have such qualities as we can see daily in every walk of US life. Despite the efforts of the real immigration reform groups such as FAIR, CIS, Numbers, and PFIR who have carefully and accurately assembled a very strong case for reform, they collectively have yet to sell it well enough to get real reforms such as E-verify (the electronic employment verification system), made permanent and mandated for all employers.

The groups, which I dub the Greed Group, that benefit most from the present deplorable situation have sucked the best they can from the rest of us, particularly poor minorities. This greed can be economic, political and ideological, but now it is obvious that this wild immigration surge cannot go on because politically the majority of us are fully aware of their vicious, unhealthy game.

Who will be the last to “get it”? Hard to say, but certainly the public behavior of Obama and too many black leaders has put them in the camp of the greedy, either for political or other reasons. It is my belief that if the heretofore silent on real immigration black leaders were to speak out from their bully pulpits, this would constitute Gladwell’s little thing that could bring great change. As I said earlier, it is obvious that these attractive, educated, persuasive public figures have within their group an abundance of all the 3 star personalities which Gladwell identifies. Folks, I am not asking anyone to change their political party. I am simply suggesting that waking up somnolent or timid African American leaders from both parties to the fact that they need to recognize their own best interests which are clearly not the same as open border advocates, might well constitute “that little thing” able to make a big difference!

In so acting, all responsible leaders of every ethnic group should now see the sheer patriotism of addressing such issues as our open borders, our flawed immigration enforcement, and demands of the greedy for more, more, more. Americans of all races and creeds can plainly see our lifestyles are broken by crowding, pollution, increasing criminality, daily traffic jams and accidents and reduction in essential government services, religious and elitist efforts to savage free public education with vouchers and looting of businesses by outrageous CEO salaries, while other employees are treated to loss of pensions and on and on.

Former US Navy officer, banker and venture capitalist, Donald A. Collins, a free lance writer living in Washington, DC., has spent over 40 years working for women’s reproductive health as a board member and/or officer of numerous family planning organizations including Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Guttmacher Institute, Family Health International and Ipas. Yale under graduate, NYU MBA. He is the author of From the Dissident Left: A Collection of Essays 2004-2013.

From the Dissident Left: A Collection of Essays 2004-2013

By Donald A. Collins
Publisher: Church and State Press (July 30, 2014)
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    • You killed your credibility with this Black American when you stated “partially-black” President… After that, I stopped reading… I love it when people specifically choose when a Black person is all of the sudden “partially-black”, when for centuries America stated that if you had an iota of black blood in you, then you were black. President Obama is more black than MOST all Black Americans… While our ancestry is white, President Obama’s FATHER is AFRICAN! He has more black blood in him than almost ALL other black Americans… You’re an idiot…


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