Nativism Watch

New TV ad: Immigrants, Obama taking jobs from blacks


Imagine 2050 Staff • Oct 23, 2014
A screen shot of PFIR's new television ad running in Louisiana.
A screen shot of PFIR's new television ad running in Louisiana.

Some media outlets have begun to report on a new television ad airing in Louisiana produced by the dubiously-named Progressives for Immigration Reform (PFIR), one of the organized anti-immigrant movement’s primary front groups.

Blaming immigrants for the economic struggles of native-born communities has been one of the anti-immigrant movement’s primary messaging frames for years.

The new ad claims President Obama’s immigration policies have had devastating effects on Louisiana’s black communities in a similar fashion to Hurricane Katrina.

“He wants to double immigration and bring in millions more immigrant workers to take jobs when many of us still can’t find jobs,” the narrator says. “He wants amnesty for millions of illegal aliens who will take jobs too.”

An October 21 ABC News report notes that PFIR’s “stance on immigration reform falls on the conservative side of the political spectrum.” This is certainly true. What the report omits, however, is PFIR’s status as a front group seeking to make the anti-immigrant movement’s nativist agenda more palatable for liberal audiences.

To prove how disingenuous PFIR’s actions are, one should look no further than the group’s executive director Leah Durant who is a member of several conservative groups despite leading a “progressive” organization.

Before joining PFIR, Durant was a staff attorney for the Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI). IRLI is the legal arm of the Federation for American Immigration Reform — the anti-immigrant movement’s flagship organization — and is largely responsible for some of the country’s most notorious anti-immigrant legislation including Arizona’s SB 1070.

Durant also was instrumental in creating the Black American Leadership Alliance (BALA) – a coalition of black activists with long-standing ties to the organized anti-immigrant movement. BALA’s efforts including its July 2013 “March for Jobs” in Washington, DC, which sought to scapegoat immigrants for the poor economic conditions for native-born workers.

It is no coincidence that PFIR’s latest ad also employs this messaging. It also isn’t coincidental that two other notable anti-immigrant groups – NumbersUSA and Californians for Population Stabilization — are currently airing television ads with nearly identical messaging in many of the same markets.

Blaming immigrants for the economic struggles of native-born communities has been one of the anti-immigrant movement’s primary messaging frames for years. Media outlets should recognize this concerted effort, but also continue to remind audiences that this long-standing nativist argument is clearly more about politics than about economics and is primarily made to demonize and sow discontent of foreigners.

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