The Congressional Black Caucus wrapped up its annual convention Saturday with a presidential speech focused on the economy, but it was a speech on the racial politics of immigration that should have gotten more attention.
Speaking to the CBC in Washington, President Obama launched the usual attacks on Republicans, defended Obamacare and bemoaned college costs, according to text released by the White House.
One thing he didn’t talk about, though, was the immigration bill the Senate passed in July. Remember that one? From the media coverage and comments by Democrats like Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., it was the Civil Rights Movement of the 21st century.
Maybe that’s because if the president had brought it up, it might have brought attention to a speech to the same group Thursday by national Obama activist Bertha Lewis that went virtually unnoticed by the mainstream media.
Unnoticed, but it was unmistakable.
In an overtly racial appeal, Lewis called the immigration bill a vehicle to outnumber the white vote, according to the Daily Caller.
“We got some Latino cousins, we got some Asian cousins, we got some Native-American cousins, we got all kind of cousins,” said Lewis, who was head of the Obama storm-trooper group ACORN until it was disbanded in 2010 over a series of scandals sparked by undercover reporting by conservative activist James O’Keefe.
“Cousins need to get together because if we’re going to be [part of the non-white] majority, it makes sense for black people in this country to get down with immigration reform,” Lewis told the CBC.
The explicitly racial message was seconded in a speech by U.S. Rep. Yvette Clarke, D-N.Y.
“What will happen with comprehensive immigration reform will be a new landscape of humanity in the United States of America,” Clarke said.
“We all have skin in the game, literally.”
So when the president speaks, and the national press corps is watching, immigration goes unmentioned at the CBC.
But when the national cameras aren’t on, speakers are free to talk in purely racial terms to a congressional caucus founded explicitly on race.
U.S. Rep. Luis Guitierrez, D-Chicago, Chicago Democratic Rep. Luis Gutierrez, one of the chief cheerleaders in the House for the Senate immigration bill summed it up.
“We have tough conversations when we lock the room — but we are smart enough to lock the room,” he told the audience. “We keep our arguments to ourselves.”