Earlier this week, the Denver Westward News Blog reported that Tom Tancredo got the idea for requiring voters to pass a civics literacy test from “a black guy” driving a limo in Detroit who was studying for his citizenship test. Now, Yeh Ling-Ling, an ethnically Chinese, Vietnam-born, Cambodian-raised, France and Taiwan educated, naturalized U.S. citizen has publicly endorsed Tancredo’s proposal. In an email exchange with reporter Michael Roberts, Yeh wrote:
I believe that in order to be granted U.S. citizenship, immigrants must have a good knowledge of spoken and written English, without any exception. Literacy tests should be given to all U.S. voters — native-born and naturalized citizens alike, so that their votes can accurately reflect their will.
I head a national tax-exempt non-profit organization whose leaders and supporters are racially and politically diverse, including minority immigrants. We do not and may not endorse or oppose political candidates or parties. We believe that some sort of immigration moratorium will be needed so that we can put American job seekers, welfare recipients and non-violent prison inmates to work.
Though the majority of foreign-born U.S. citizens support immigrant-friendly policies, there are always those who would prefer to shut the door behind them. Yeh’s organization believes the U.S. should block further immigration in order to deal with everything from traffic congestion and air pollution to an overall “deteriorating quality of life.” Despite the fact that 89% of Latinos support an earned path to legalization for undocumented immigrants, a small group of Latinos have also started an organization called “You Don’t Speak For Me” in protest of undocumented immigration.
While everyone is entitled to their opinion, it’s troubling that these groups are so quick to ally themselves with individuals and organizations that have repeatedly denigrated their communities and who are transparently exploiting their alliance in order to skirt valid accusations of bigotry and nativism. When it comes to immigration, Tancredo isn’t as concerned about traffic jams and air pollution as he is about “the fate of western civilization.” You Don’t Speak For Me’s official spokesperson isn’t a Latino, it’s Ira Mehlman — a white man who is also curiously the spokesperson for Choose Black America (CBA), a coalition of black leaders opposed to undocumented immigration, and the mostly-white designated hate group, Federation for American Immigration Reform.
The Center for New Community describes these organizations as nothing more than front groups propped by institutions with relatively clear cut anti-immigrant agendas. Ultimately, their peculiar association raises the question of whether these groups are really speaking for themselves. And, if not, then who is?