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Are Illegal Immigrants Taking Jobs from Blacks?
By: M.L. Ingram
Special to the NNPA from the Philadelphia Tribune
Originally posted 4/10/2006

PHILADELPHIA (NNPA) – For Blacks and Latinos, destinies in securing a place in America have been, in many ways, intertwined. But that view may unravel, as current trends show a wave of illegal immigration has helped push Blacks down the hole, instead of out of it.

In spite of published reports indicating increases in jobs and decreases in unemployment levels, Blacks are still struggling. With the nationwide unemployment rate dropping from February’s rating of 4.8 percent, the number for Black unemployment, skilled or unskilled, remained at a cumulative 9.3 percent.

Bernard Anderson, professor of economics at the University of Pennsylvania, said numbers such as these should sound some kind of alarm.

“In the midst of a very conservative trend, jobs are up, but opportunities for Blacks are diminishing,” said Anderson. “Employment of illegal immigrants has made a significant dent in the nation’s population. Because of this, African-American leadership, for the most part, is silent and conflicted on this matter.”

According to the Census Bureau’s Center for Immigration report of 2004, of the 4.2 million immigrants entering the United States between 2000 and 2004, 50 percent are illegal aliens.
In addition, since 1970, sub-Saharan Africans have accounted for less than 2 percent of legal immigrants. By comparison, Mexican immigrants constituted 28 percent over the same period.

According to numbers gathered by the Pew Research Center, more than 11 million illegal immigrants lived in America in 2005, a 185 percent rise from more than a generation ago.

The origins of where they come from point to primarily Spanish-speaking countries. Seventy-eight percent of illegal immigrants come from Latin America, and 56 percent of them are Mexicans living full-time in America.
Out of a total workforce of 148 million Americans, it is estimated that almost 5 percent of all workers in the United States are earning salaries illegally.

Professor George Borjas, an economist from Harvard, did research that showed whether legally or illegally, working immigrants reduced wages of American-born citizens over the last 25 years.

These numbers don’t bode well for Blacks, according to African-American Chamber of Commerce chairman A. Bruce Crawley. In a statement, Crawley spoke out against Philadelphia City Councilman Jim Kenney’s immigration bill.

“The Center for Immigration Studies, through a Census Bureau derived report concluded any negative effect from immigration will fall on the 26 million native-born workers in the U.S. who already have the lowest wages and highest unemployment,” said Crawley.

“Additional data states 40 percent of native-born Blacks work in high-immigrant occupations – cleaning, food preparation, manufacturing and transportation – this, in comparison to 22.9 percent of whites in the same fields.

“So, without question, Blacks are much more likely to be affected by any decline in wages or benefits resulting from immigrant-induced increase in the labor force.”

While discrimination maybe the best explanation for persistent Black unemployment, Anderson implies a more consistently sinister scenario.

“Arguably the most racist policy in this country for the past quarter century has been that of immigration,” Anderson said. “An onslaught of poorly educated, mostly Hispanic immigrants has severely hindered attempts of African-Americans to climb up the economic ladder.

“Blacks overwhelmingly vote for the Democrats, while the Democrats have strongly supported massive Hispanic immigration that harms Black folks economically. Democrats correctly perceive Hispanics as mostly expanding the lower class and therefore see most Hispanics as future Democrats; but Democrats are willing to sacrifice Black interests in order to ensure future Democratic Party majorities, believing Blacks will remain loyal.

“You have to remember Blacks couldn’t get in unions, and, early on needed allies to see their dreams come to fruition to their political agendas. Groups like the NAACP, Urban League and SCLC are committed to coalition politics.

“Therefore the Democrats care far more about winning elections than helping the poor people we already have.”
Anderson said there is a sinister consistency in how immigration plays out when it comes to Blacks vis-à-vis the current number of illegal immigrants.

“The labor market theory infers that without this high number of immigrants in the country, employers would have to pay higher salaries and offer basic benefits.

“Years ago, I worked as a government inspector, and there was a time where we looked to crack down on the garment industry, which has its base in cities like Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York. We would fine sweatshops that were loaded with immigrants, mostly Spanish-speaking.

“But these shops open up elsewhere, and flourished in such a manner that after awhile, even the fines weren’t a deterrent to stop employers from hiring illegal immigrants,” he said.

A new study from the Pew Hispanic Center reports salaries among Latinos have fallen for the last two years – in large part due to more than 850,000 new illegal immigrants entering the country each year.

A recent protest that drew more than 1 million people to the streets in protest of an immigration bill currently sitting in the Senate seemed to remind those elected officials that futures lie with those that can count.
Anderson said very few of those faces were Black.

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