WJNT talk radio host Kim Wade, inflamed by Sen. Trent Lott's support of an immigration compromise bill that failed last Thursday, partnered with NumbersUSA—a self-described "immigration-reduction organization"—to deliver a signed petition against immigration reform to Lott's Jackson office on June 19. On June 28, 53 U.S. senators successfully voted to halt any reconsideration of the bill.
Wade described his association with NumbersUSA, which paid for TV advertisements promoting the petition, as one of "kindred spirits," since they are both opposed to "amnesty" for illegal immigrants. That buzzword may have been key in derailing the compromise legislation, which included a provision for heads of households, after paying a fine of at least $5,000, to return to their native countries and wait up to 13 years before potentially qualifying for U.S. citizenship.
Wade told the Jackson Free Press in a phone interview that he believed "amnesty" referred not only to this path to citizenship but also to an amnesty of all crimes committed by immigrants in the U.S.
"If you look at the bill, they're waiving all the felonies that they may have committed in their country of origin, or here in this country, and allowing them to become citizens," he said. "What do you think all the uproar is about?"
An amnesty for all felonies committed by immigrants in the U.S. has never been a part of the bill.
"The thing about the xenophobes who were attacking that bill is that they do not know the English language. Had they looked up the meaning of 'amnesty' in the dictionary, they would have known that," Bill Chandler, executive director of Mississippi Immigrant Rights Alliance, told the Jackson Free Press.
During Senate floor discussions earlier this month, Lott publicly lamented conservative talk radio's role in framing the immigration bill discussion.
"Talk radio is running America," Lott said on June 12. The comment unleashed the wrath of Wade and Rush Limbaugh, both of whom invoked their defense of Lott after his pro-segregationist comments at former Sen. Strom Thurmond's birthday party in 2002.
"I got involved after Lott's comments about the talk-radio industry. (NumbersUSA) wanted a talk-radio host to present the petition to Sen. Lott's office, and I agreed to do it. … I do share their views on immigration," Wade said.
NumbersUSA was founded in 1996 by John Tanton, a retired eye surgeon who has contributed to a network of 13 anti-immigration groups, three of which the Southern Poverty Law Center designates as hate groups. Between 1985 and 1996, one of these groups, the Federation for American Immigration Reform (which Tanton founded and presided over during these years as board president), accepted $1.2 million from the Pioneer Fund, a group that partnered with the Nazi eugenics program in the 1930s. The Pioneer Fund Web site now includes various pseudo-scientific explanations for the claim that whites are genetically superior to blacks.
In 2003, Tanton defended his association with the Pioneer Fund by referring to academics who have accepted Pioneer Fund money to study a widely disputed genetic-based "intelligence gap," in studies such as "Testing the Negro Intelligence."
"I'm comfortable being in the company of other Pioneer Fund grantees," he wrote on his Web site.
When asked about the Pioneer Fund link, Wade replied: "That really doesn't bother me. I don't care.
"In America, you're allowed to have different viewpoints," Wade continued. "You at the Jackson Free Press are openly progressive. You don't want to have your right infringed upon to be progressive; why should we infringe upon (Tanton's) right—if he doesn't like progressives, or if he doesn't like blacks, or if he doesn't like whites, or whatever. That's his right."
In a 1986 memo to his colleagues, Tanton used racially inflammatory language, which led to his resignation from the English language advocacy group, U.S. English.
"As Whites see their power and control over their lives declining, will they simply go quietly into the night? Or will there be an explosion? Why don't non-Hispanic Whites have a group identity, as do Blacks, Jews, Hispanics?" he wrote.
Tanton also referred to Latinos in the memo as hypersexual threats to U.S. population numbers: "[P]erhaps this is the first instance in which those with their pants up are going to get caught by those with their pants down."
Wade said that he agreed with NumbersUSA's warnings against an immigrant-fueled "population explosion," which the policy group demonstrates with a conspicuous red and green chart (red indicating a sharp increase in immigrant growth, green a calm slope of "native" population increase).
"The first wave that comes over, yes they're hard workers—but when their cousins come over, the ones who are gang bangers, we're going to see a total breakdown of our society," Wade said, referring specifically to Latinos.
One of NumberUSA's talking points is immigration's threat to African Americans. Under the header "Black Americans," the NumbersUSA Web site includes an instruction, in red ink: "The interests of black Americans are clear: no amnesty, no guest workers, enforce the immigration law."
Wade said that he agreed with the Web site's assertion that immigration is the "single largest reason" for a drop in employment among black men.
"Black people think they have solidarity with Hispanics because of their brown skin color, but these are people mostly who have not grown up in neighborhoods with Hispanics," Wade said.
He attributed his assertion that black males will begin to see unemployment rates of "anywhere from 80 to 90 percent" to Choose Black America member Terrance Lang. Choose Black America, a Los Angeles-based anti-immigration group, is a subsidiary of FAIR.
In a YouTube video Wade provided to the JFP—which is spliced with a voice-over that claims Jews are "hiring illegal aliens to exterminate (white and black) Americans"—Lang is featured speaking at an anti-immigrant demonstration in Los Angeles.
"Wherever you come from—be it Germany, be it England, be it Africa—go home. You people don't understand what it is to be an American. To be an American means to not choose race over your country," Lang says on the video.
Chandler said the black unemployment figure Wade cited was "ridiculous." "Ever since Reconstruction, employers have played on racism to divide workers," he said.
When asked if anti-immigration rhetoric reveals undercurrents of racism, Wade replied: "I understand the need to make it into a black-and-white thing, or a racial stake, but that dog won't hunt."
"Let's just say (the bill) is pro-Hispanic and anti-everybody else," he said. "Why don't you all let the Hispanics in to write articles for you guys, and pay for advertisements?"
Phew. Sho' is a lot of hatin' going on, isn't it? I'll be glad when the government can come up with a compromise that everyone can be satisfied with.