Politics

Meet the white Trump official behind the launch of Black America for Immigration Reform

A relatively unremarkable, seemingly progressive-leaning immigration policy group launched last week in D.C. called Black America for Immigration Reform.

The man who launched it is white. He has a history of inflammatory posts about matters of race. And his vision for reforming immigration is restricting it.

William W. Chip, who served as the senior counselor at the Department of Homeland Security Secretary during the Trump administration, is the only agent listed for Black America for Immigration Reform. In fact, the registration address he put on the group’s form appears to be his D.C. home. A tax attorney for decades, Chip is a contributor to the Center for Immigration Studies — one of the leading think tanks that advocates for restricting immigration — where he has routinely written about how more immigration could harm Black Americans.

The nonprofit he has helped launch is an attempt to further mainstream that idea, one critics of the argument say is merely an underhanded, if not misleading attempt to try and derail comprehensive reform efforts. In an interview, Chip said that he was merely organizing the group for two Black colleagues on the Center for Immigration Studies board of directors: T. Willard Fair and Frank Morris. Chip won’t be on the board for Black America for Immigration Reform, he said, but alongside Fair and Morris, three other people will be a part of the group.

“Anytime you have research that suggests you should reduce immigration, you’re immediately attacked by the mainstream media and the left and all the politically correct people — that oh, you’re just a bunch of white racists who want to keep America white,” Chip said in an interview. “And so the feeling was, if we had a legitimate, African American organization, whose board consisted of prominent African Americans, they might get more credibility.”

When asked how the new group came about, Fair — who is also the president and CEO of the Urban League in Miami — said it was Chip who suggested it.

“In Dade County, having experienced the Haitians coming here, I knew how if it was not controlled how it could impact negatively the progress of my constituents, who happen to be Black Miamians,” Fair said, noting that he has been talking about this issue for decades. “And then Chip came up with the idea that we ought to begin to react again based on what’s going on at the southern border, and how it was going to impact us going forward. So he said, ‘let’s organize a group.’”

Black America for Immigration Reform isn’t the first group of its kind. Organizations such as Numbers USA, the Federation for American Immigration and Project for Immigration Reform (which has since rebranded to the Institute for Sound Public Policy) have also elevated the argument that immigration harms Black workers, as a way to promote limits on immigration.

The new nonprofit is in the early stages, but the plan is to soon apply for 501(c)(3) status and get a website up and running. The group isn’t initially planning to lobby, Chip said, but it wants to highlight research suggesting less-educated immigrant workers harm less-educated U.S.-born counterparts. Their emphasis will be on Black workers, who they argue face increased competition for jobs. They want to use this argument to push forward restrictionist immigration policies, including requiring businesses to use E-Verify, an online government system that allows employers to check someone’s employment eligibility, as well as efforts to cut back on legal immigration.

While writing about immigration for the Center for Immigration studies for nearly two decades, Chip did not hide his views on race. During 2021, he posted a series of inflammatory posts on Twitter, now known as X, including one tweet that questioned whether Derek Chauvin, the Minneapolis officer who killed George Floyd, was racially motivated. In another, he talks Native Americans’ concerns about European settlement in America.

“If there are some whites who are concerned about becoming the minority and having other racial groups become the dominant force in society, and so they’re basically at the mercy of the other groups — I mean, they’re not the only ones who felt that way. The Native Americans felt that way,” Chip said, when explaining the tweet.

In an interview with POLITICO, when asked about his new group’s purpose, he also talked about how immigration affects the ability for Black men to get jobs — suggesting they “leave their wives” because they can’t find employment.

“And there’s a lot of good research out there about that, but it’s not really getting the attention it needs in part because anytime you come out and suggest to limit immigration, the first thing the woke left does is accuse you of being a white nationalist,” Chip said.

Harry Holzer, a labor economist at Georgetown and chief economist at the Department of Labor under the Clinton administration, said the debate is complicated. But, in the end, he argued, most economists believe immigrants are beneficial to the labor market writ large and have minimal impact on less-educated, native-born workers, while acknowledging that there is a small cost to certain groups, including Black workers in some sectors of the economy.

Outside of the economic debate, however, advocates and some immigration policy experts see cynical political opportunism at play.

Muzaffar Chishti, a senior fellow at the Migration Policy Institute, argued that the newly launched nonprofit fits into an effort to try and pit core Democratic constituencies — immigrants and Black Americans — against each other. He said the effort is often misleading.

Chishti pointed to GOP presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy, who according to The New York Times, recently recounted a May event in southside Chicago in which he had an illuminating exchange with Black voters. In Ramaswamy’s telling, these voters favored him sending troops to Mexico, locking down the border and had numerous questions about immigration. According to the Times, however, they actually pressed the GOP candidate on his opposition to affirmative action and systemic racism. A Ramaswamy campaign aide then implored the crowd to ask questions about immigration.

“It’s not surprising that the restrictionist movement is trying to find a strong foothold in the Black population,” Chishti said, explaining that this isn’t the first time the movement has latched on to this argument. “But it just didn’t work. And I think the jury’s out today in this chapter whether it will work, because the Rainbow Coalition in the Democratic party is still quite potent — we haven’t seen any fractures in that. But I think this is an attempt to create a fracture in that coalition.”

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