Updated at 9:00 am, February 7:

According to an article by Chris Hoenig on a site called DiversityInc. (no date or link is provided with the article), an anonymous Southern GOP lawmaker is quoted as telling BuzzFeed that immigration reform has been held up because of race. See GOP Congressman Admits Racist Colleagues Are Holding Up Immigration Reform.

The same article also quotes South Carolina Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, a prominent reform supporter and member of the Senate bipartisan Gang of Eight, as making a similar point. According to Sen. Graham:

"There will always be people [who have] different reasons for opposing the change. We have a history in this country of demagoguery when it comes [to immigration]. You know, 'Irish Need Not Apply'. There's nothing new going on today that hasn't gone on before. This isn't the first time that there's been some ugliness around the issue of immigration..."

It may be easy to understand why immigration opponents are so anxious to find excuses for blocking reform that would enable them to avoid admitting the powerful influence of racism.

After all, Benghazi sounds like a better reason than bigotry for being against immigration reform. But which one makes more sense?

And how much longer will immigration supporters continue to let GOP Congressional leaders such as John Boehner and Mitch McConnell get away with their transparent, fraudulent excuses for killing reform?

I graduated from law school and began my career as a lawyer during the turbulent civil rights era of the early 1960's, and I worked for a law firm which was active in the struggle to eliminate racial segregation and counted Martin Luther King Jr. among its clients.

During that period, racism against African-Americans was front and center in US politics, with civil rights leaders openly attacking it and Southern segregationists bigots openly trying to defend it.

True, the "rule of law" - in the form of claiming "states' rights" to enact their own segregation laws - was raised as a fig leaf to try to cover up bigotry against black US citizens, just as it is now being used as an excuse for hatred against Latino, black and Asian immigrants by those who are shouting for even more immigration enforcement - especially by bigoted state officials.

But few segregationists of that time tried to hide their belief that African-Americans were inferior to whites. Nor did civil rights leaders hold back from attacking the segregationist bigots for their racism.

Today, a half century later, while no one would argue that prejudice against African-Americans has been eliminated, the main targets of the bigots and haters are the various Latino communities in America, and, above all, Mexican immigrants, both with legal status and without. Yesterday's segregationists are today's immigration restrictionists.

The battle to eliminate racial segregation, denial of voting rights and the whole panoply of legalized hatred against African-American people in the 1950's and 1960's has now become the battle for immigration reform - i.e ending mass deportations and related forms of government persecution against Latino and other non-white immigrants, using their lack of legal status as the fig leaf to cover up prejudice and hate.

But their is a difference - just as the anti-immigrant bigots are trying to come up with a variety of fake economic and political excuses to conceal their racism - immigrants "refuse to assimilate", "lower wages", "take jobs away from Americans", "only care about public benefits", and even, most absurdly of all "pollute the environment" - as if white people don't drive cars and throw away trash too - the immigration reform side is - amazingly - playing along with this "hide the racism" game by arguing mainly in economic terms.

"Legalizing 11 million immigrants will help the economy." "It will boost tax revenues and increase purchasing power." "Legalized immigrants will fill jobs the economy needs and Americans don't want." Sure, all these arguments are true - at least to a large extent.

The economic arguments for reforming the legal immigration system are even stronger - "attract the best and the brightest"; "remain competitive globally"; "create new businesses and more jobs for Americans". I have personally seen and am continually seeing or hearing stories of too many talented, educated and hard-working people being forced to return to their countries by our narrow immigration laws, as interpreted by ignorant and vindictive immigration officials.

But, at bottom, the battle for just immigration laws, fair immigration procedures and equitable application of the regulations is not a battle over economics. Martin Luther King Jr. did not play a large role in ending segregation and become one of the greatest Americans in our history by arguing that racial discrimination was bad for the economy (even though it of course was).

The civil rights movement was a movement for human dignity, justice and racial equality - the essential values of America. Today's immigration reform movement is no different. But where are the ringing denunciations of racial prejudice by today's immigration advocates?

Why are immigration supporters not confronting the Tea Party-inspired bigotry against non-white immigrants that is holding up reform in the GOP head on? Is there any other way to bring about immigration reform?


Roger Algase is a New York attorney and a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School. For more than 30 years, through his close personal attention to each case, he has been earning the trust of his business and professional immigration clients and helping them achieve successful results.

His main areas of practice are H-1B and O-1 work visas, and green cards through labor certification, extraordinary ability, and opposite or same sex marriage. His email address is algaselex@gmail.com