MLK Day: Decades Later, Immigration in the Interests of Black America Remains a Dream

Civil rights icon Barbara Jordan warned more than two decades ago of mass legal immigration’s impact on black Americans. To this day, her reforms to aid the black community have remained a dream.

In a television ad on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, NumbersUSA — the organization that fights for American workers in the immigration debate — is running an ad featuring Jordan’s famed recommendations to Congress in 1995.

“The commission finds no national interest in continuing to import lesser skilled and unskilled workers to compete in the most vulnerable parts of our labor force,” Jordan said at a presentation in August 1995 as the chair of the U.S. Commission on Immigration Reform.

“Many American workers do not have adequate job prospects,” Jordan said. “We should make their task easier to find employment, not harder.”

At the time of Jordan’s recommendations, the U.S. was admitting a little less than a million legal immigrants a year and about 1.5 million illegal aliens were arriving in the country annually.

Former President George H.W. Bush’s Immigration Act of 1990 had just created the country’s current form of chain migration — which allows naturalized citizens to bring their foreign relatives to the U.S. — and had increased the number of visas awarded to mostly unskilled foreign nationals every year.

Jordan’s recommendations were a blow to what had become the immigration status quo among the Democrat and Republican Party; mostly that all immigration — no matter the total — was good for Americans.

Among her recommendations, Jordan’s requests included:

  • Mandatory E-Verify to ban employers from hiring illegal aliens
  • Barring illegal aliens from non-emergency public services
  • Cutting legal immigration levels down from about one million admissions a year to 550,000 admissions a year
  • Ending chain migration, which makes up about 70 percent of all legal immigration to the U.S.
  • Reducing the importation of low-skilled foreign workers who compete for U.S. jobs with poor and working-class Americans

Jordan’s assertion that among the most hurt by the country’s mass legal immigration policy, black Americans, has been solidified in research and data for the past two decades.

National Bureau of Economic Research’s analysts George Borjas, Jeffrey Grogger, and Gordon Hanson reiterated Jordan’s warnings in their 2007 study of immigration’s impact on the black American community.

“We find a numerically sizable and statistically significant negative correlation between immigration and the wages of black men,” the researchers noted. “A sizable and significant negative correlation between immigration and the employment rate of black men; and a sizable and significant positive correlation between immigration and the incarceration rate of black men.”

The researchers’ findings also revealed that the immigration inflow of more than a million legal immigrants a year to the U.S. “reduced the employment rate of low-skill black men by about eight percentage points.”

“Immigration, therefore, accounts for about 40 percent of the 17.9 percentage point decline in black employment rates” the researchers found.

At the same time, mass legal immigration drove up the number of workers in the country by nearly ten percent between 1980 and 2000 and increased the number of high school dropouts by more than 20 percent.

Despite immigration’s negative impact on black Americans, and specifically black American men, the country’s mass legal immigration policy has yet to be reformed. In fact, immigration has expanded through a series of visa programs and giveaways since Jordan’s call for less overall immigration.

The closest the country has come to Jordan’s recommendations is Senators Tom Cotton (R-AR) and David Perdue’s (R-GA) RAISE Act, which would have reduced legal immigration to the U.S. to about 500,000 admissions a year, as well as creating a merit-based system as the Civil Rights leader demanded.

This wage-raising plan, more than two decades later, has been met with gridlock and rejection from both Democrat and Republican political establishments.

John Binder is a reporter for Breitbart New. Follow him on Twitter at @JxhnBinder

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