Why LL Has a Problem With Leo Alexander’s ‘Anti-Illegal-Immigrant Rhetoric’
In his column this week, LL swatted away the candidacies of two declared challengers to Mayor Adrian M. Fenty in order to proffer a half-dozen more suitable candidates.
With regard to Leo Alexander, LL wrote that his "anti-illegal-immigrant rhetoric...leaves a bad taste in LL’s mouth."
That led Alexander's communication director, Debra Daniels, to issue a release last night calling LL a "second-rate reporter for having stated the attribution of "anti-illegal-immigrant rhetoric"...when you in fact have not even interviewed Leo Alexander." (Even though—yes, Debra—LL did.)
And now Martin Austermuhle has tackled the line in DCist, leading to a vigorous commenter debate.
For sure, Alexander deserves some more meat to be placed on the bones of LL's brief critique. So why does his anti-illegal-immigrant rhetoric leave a bad taste in LL's mouth?
Because it's easy, it doesn't solve much at all, and it does so by dividing the city.
Alexander speaks eloquently about how he knows poverty and how he wants to cure poverty. But he betrays little sophistication as to how to do it.
If you're running for mayor of a platform of "eliminating generational poverty," surely you have some better plan than to kick illegal immigrants to the curb so the black Washingtonians you're pandering to can take low-income jobs parking cars and working in hotels? Is that the way out of "generational poverty"?
To be fair, Alexander's Web site doesn't mention his plan to mandate the troubled E-Verify system and it also includes a smattering of proposals to address unemployment, such as "vocational education, apprenticeship training, and partnerships with government, unions, businesses, and universities," not to mention the "mandatory, non-skilled labor percentages on District projects." But he has described none of those ideas in the detail he's put forth for his anti-illegal-immigrant plan in interviews (let alone have any sort of record on the issue).
The problem—identified by every think tank and business organization in town, and most of its politicians—is that the District's unemployed workforce is woefully underprepared to take the jobs that are being created in the District and the region. That's why Kwame Brown's so big on vocational training. Why Michael Brown's big on supporting UDC. And why Adrian Fenty's so goddamn serious about fixing the D.C. Public Schools.
While Alexander's talking about addressing the "root causes" of poverty, his most specific, concrete proposal to address chronic unemployment merely mists its leaves.