Sunday, July 21, was a day of nationwide demonstrations on behalf of justice for African-Americans in reaction to the acquittal of George Zimmerman for the Killing of Trayvon Martin.

President Obama has also spoken out about the need to confront our racial divisions and the reality of prejudice against African-Americans. Now, once again, it is acceptable to talk openly about the effects of racism against black people and the need to eliminate it from our society once and for all.

Patricia Williams describes the need to stop avoiding the issue of race in her July 19 article in The Guardian: The killing of Trayvon Martin is the continuation of business as usual: business-as-usual/print

"And so, in a country divided down the middle about race...we have decided that if we were just to stop talking about it so much, racial division would melt away. According to this logic, we don't have any problem that the dismantling of the civil rights laws won't cure."

She continues:

"Over the past few years the Supreme Court has aggressively restricted laws meant to redress the legacy of segregation...Just last month it gutted the Voting Rights Act of 1965..."

But, even though America is now beginning to face the ongoing reality of racial discrimination and inequality with regard to African-Americans, we are not yet seeing the same frank and open dialogue about race in the debate of over immigration.

While one would like to share the optimism of a respected immigration advocate such as Tamar Jacoby, it is difficult to agree with her up-beat analysis of the chances for passage of immigration reform in the House, as described in her LA Times op-ed: Immigration reform: It's alive!(July 18), because it overlooks the racial elephant in the room.,0,2377621,print.story

And while Immigration reform supporters seem to be hesitant to engage in plain talk about race, immigration opponents are making no bones about connecting their glee over Zimmerman's acquittal in the killing of a young, unarmed black man with their hatred of immigrants.

Take the following all too typical comment which someone using a pseudonym posted on the LA Times' website in response to Jacoby's piece:

"The public isn't buying the 'Progressive' narrative any more. Witness the Zimmerman trial as an example. People understand how much damage the 'Progressive' open borders radicals have done to the country and they want remedial action...

You're not only going to lose on this one, you're going to get steadily rolled back. Rolled back as in pre-Kennedy [presumably referring to the 1965 reform law which abolished racial immigration quotas] roll-back and then some."

In her article, Jacoby argues that the House Republicans' insistence on a "piecemeal" approach to immigration reform instead of a comprehensive one is not meant to kill reform, as many House Republicans are threatening to do, but to advance it.

Her explanation is as follows:

"House Republicans have been deliberating for months about how to get these measures across the finish line, and many expect the bills to come to the floor separately, passing one by one, each with a slightly different combination of Democrats and Republicans. Then leadership is expected to string the bills together, like beads in a necklace, in a package that can be reconciled with the Senate omnibus."

But many House Republicans are adamantly opposed to passing any immigration bill that would lead to a House-Senate conference, and House Speaker John Boehner has repeatedly announced that he will not allow any immigration reform bill to come to the floor unless it is supported by a majority of his own party in that chamber.

Moreover, most (though admittedly not all) of the immigration bills that have been passed or are under discussion in the House are of the enforcement only variety, and reflect the long standing prejudice against Latino, Asian and black immigrants which still holds much of the Republican party in its grip.

Unless there is a more open discussion about racial attitudes toward Latino, Asian and black immigrants, Tamar Jacoby's "necklace" of House immigration bills may turn out to be a noose that could put an end to any hopes for real reform.

A arguably more realistic view of the state of immigration reform in the House appears in a July 22 POLITICO article by Jake Sherman and Seung Min Kim: Immigration faces critical weeks.

The article starts off:

"When it comes to immigration, the House looks like a mess."

Enough said.

The chances for passage of immigration reform in the House look even more precarious in the light of the lower chamber's radical, uncompromising positions on a host of other issues, many of which, like immigration, also affect the lives of millions of people of color, especially those who are less well off.

Viewed from this standpoint, killing immigration reform could be looked at (to use Jacoby's image), as just one bead in a necklace of reaction and obstructionism.

Jonathan Chait writes about this in his July 21 New York Magazine article: Anarchists of the House: The Republican Congress is testing a new frontier of radicalism - governmental sabotage

With regard to immigration, he states:

"A recent joint op-ed by National Review editor and his Weekly Standard counterpart Bill Kristol denounced the bipartisan immigration bill that passed the Senate as a 'stew of deals, payoffs, waivers, and special-interest breaks'. This echoed the conservative critique of all Obama era legislation - "

To be sure, Chait also points out that some conservative Republican leaders, such as Senator Marco Rubio and Congressman Paul Ryan, are in favor of immigration reform. But this is very far from assuring that it will ever pass the House, as the above POLITICO article makes all too clear.

Fifty years after Martin Luther King's historic March on Washington for civil rights, America still has a long way to go in confronting and overcoming prejudice against African-Americans.

In the same way, forty-eight years after Congress finally eliminated whites-only racial quotas from our immigration laws America needs to make much more progress in accepting non-white immigrants, particularly those who do not belong to an affluent or highly educated elite, as full members of our society.

This is the crucial issue in the battle to pass CIR. We cannot pretend otherwise.