U.S. Civil Rights Commissioner to Congressional Black Caucus: Amnesty Hurts Black Workers
A member of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights advised the Congressional Black Caucus on Tuesday to oppose amnesty legislation backed by President Barack Obama and Democrats because it threatens to further devastate the employment opportunities for black Americans.
Commissioner Peter Kirsanow, in his individual capacity as a member of the eight-member commission, wrote to Rep. Marcia Fudge (R-OH), the chair of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), and said that amnesty would "disproportionately harm lower-skilled African-Americans" whose economic conditions have already gotten worse under America's first black president.
He asked members of the CBC to "oppose any legislation that would grant any form of work authorization to illegal aliens" and "oppose legislation that would increase the overall number of guest workers admitted to the U.S. each year."
Reports have documented the surplus of labor in the high-tech industry that is depressing wages, and there is also a huge surplus in more lower-skilled jobs.
"The obvious question is whether there are sufficient jobs in the low-skilled labor market for both African-Americans and illegal immigrants," Kirsanow wrote. "The answer is no."
He referenced a 2008 commission hearing in which witnesses testified that illegal immigration "disproportionately impacts the wages and employment opportunities of African-American" males. Scholars noted that 40% of the 18-point decline in the black employment rate from 1960 to 2000 was due to immigration. He noted that illegal immigrants and blacks "often find themselves in competition for the same jobs."
Kirsanow cited April's unemployment numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which found that the "unemployment rate for all black Americans – not just those with few skills – was 11.6 percent, more than twice the white unemployment rate of 5.3 percent." Furthermore, the unemployment rate for black teens was 36.8 percent, and the "black labor force participation rate has fallen to an historic low of 60.9 percent," while the "black median household income has dropped by nearly $1,500 in the last five years."
"Illegal immigration has a disparate impact on African-American men because these men are disproportionately represented in the low-skilled labor force," he wrote, noting that a 2012 Census report found that "50.9 percent of native-born blacks had not continued their education beyond high school."
That same report also "found that 75.5 percent of foreign-born Hispanics had not been educated beyond high school," and "foreign-born Hispanics who are in the United States illegally are disproportionately male." And since "African-Americans who have not pursued education beyond high school are also disproportionately male," they will be competing for similar jobs in an economy that "has a glut of low-skilled workers, not a shortage."
These employment difficulties, Kirsanow noted, combined with high incarceration rates, "likely contribute to one of the most serious problems facing the African-American community today: the dearth of intact nuclear families."
"The disintegration of the black family began to accelerate during the 1960s. It is one of the great tragedies of modern America that the disintegration of the African-American family has shown no signs of abating," he wrote. "The dearth of job opportunities gives these men less confidence in their ability to support a family, and gives women reason to fear that these prospective husbands will be only another mouth to feed."
Kirsanow also emphasized that the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act showed that amnesty legislation does not solve the illegal immigration problem, and "it is likely that if illegal immigrants are granted legal status, more people will come to America illegally and will further crowd African-American men (and other low-skilled men and women) out of the workforce."
"Giving amnesty to illegal immigrants would only exacerbate this problem facing low-skilled men, who are disproportionately African-American," Kirsanow wrote.