Monday, May 20, 2024

The myth of a black-brown coalition on immigration…

May 25, 2010 by  
Filed under News, Weekly Columns

( There is a significant disconnect between many black leaders’ opinion that supporting illegal immigration represents “fairness” that will benefit black Americans, and the black rank-and-file who wonder why foreigners who flout America’s laws should be rewarded with amnesty and special privileges for their criminal behavior.

Self-proclaimed black leaders are promoting a pro-illegal-immigration agenda which comes at the expense of African-Americans. The NAACP has joined with the American Civil Liberties Union, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund, and other groups to challenge the constitutionality of Arizona’s new law against illegal immigration, claiming that the law will lead to racial profiling. Rev. Al Sharpton has protested at the Arizona State Capitol, arguing that what disproportionately impacts Hispanics similarly impacts blacks. He stated, “We must stand with our brown brothers and sisters.”

Meanwhile, Rev. Jesse Jackson has urged Major League Baseball to pull the 2011 All-Star Game out of Arizona in response to the law. Even though the black unemployment rate is nationally at 17 percent (and much higher in certain cities), the Congressional Black Caucus doesn’t mention illegal immigration as a top priority.

There used to be a time when black leaders were aligned with black America on this issue. During the last century, Booker T. Washington, A. Phillip Randolph, and W.E.B. Du Bois were all opposed to open borders, arguing that it undermined black advancement and undercut black employees. Educated blacks may not feel the effects of illegal immigration, but the flood of illegal, low-skilled labor undercuts employment prospects especially for low-wage black employees (and low-wage employees are disproportionately black). Perhaps black leaders should pay attention to what these people- who are dealing with the consequences of illegal immigration on a daily basis- think about the issue.

Black leaders have already been silent as Hispanics have surpassed blacks as the largest minority group (heavily fueled by illegal immigration), but now they expect the wider African-American community to be alright with undocumented workers denying them opportunities in the labor market. Pro-amnesty advocates often claim these workers are doing jobs that Americans “don’t want to do” and aren’t undermining black employment prospects. However, such claims do not stand up to scrutiny. African-Americans are hit the hardest by the impact of illegal immigration. And we’re not just talking about jobs like lettuce picking, but construction, landscaping, and manufacturing jobs as well.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the median black household made $32,000 in 2007. However, the Pew Hispanic Center shows that the median household income for illegal immigrants in 2007 was $37,000. The center also found that 41 percent of black respondents in Chicago, America’s third largest city, said they had lost a job to an immigrant. This was compared with 15 percent of white respondents. Harvard University professor George Borjas has found that black wages fell 4.5 percent during a two-decade immigration boom between 1980 and 2000. He also found that the lower the employees’ education levels, the more their wages declined. Weak enforcement of immigration laws enables businesses to continue hiring wage-suppressing illegal immigrants – lawbreakers who shouldn’t be in the country in the first place — at the expense of citizens and legal immigrants of all races.

Illegal immigration also increases social challenges in black America. A new study by Louisiana State University sociology professor Edward Shihadeh shows that the arrival of large numbers of immigrant employees in cities displaces low-skilled black employees, which subsequently leads to increased violence. Are black leaders even considering these issues as they stump across the country in favor of illegal immigration?

Nor have we seen reciprocity in this alleged black-brown coalition. Where are Hispanic groups on U.S. immigration policy towards Haitians in comparison to the “wet foot, dry foot” immigration policy for Cubans, that eases Cuban immigration to America? Where are the Latino groups fighting for blacks who are being killed in crimes committed by illegal immigrants out of Mexico? If this black-brown coalition was a reality instead of a one-sided deal, we’d see an onslaught of Latino leaders speaking out on these issues. It’s time for black leaders to stand on the side of black citizens and legal immigrants — and citizens and legal immigrants of all races — over lawbreakers who undermine black prosperity.

Written By Shamara Riley

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