The current crisis over immigration may impact low income blacks the most. The question has to be asked; where are these new immigrants going to work? Blacks historically have been some of the main workers of low-end jobs but with the influx of a new immigrant workforce, these jobs will become more scarce.
The warning bells were sounded about the economic impact in 2013 by attorney and member of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, Peter Kirsanow. He and two of his fellow commissioners, Abigail Thernstrom and Gail Heriot wrote a letter to the Congressional Black Caucus which stated some highly relevant facts:
- Illegal immigration has a disparate impact on African American men because these men are disproportionately represented in the low-skilled labor force.
- 50.9 percent of native-born blacks had not continued their education beyond high school
- 75.5 percent of foreign-born Hispanics had not been educated beyond high school
- These poor educational attainment levels usually relegate both African American men and illegal immigrant men to the same low-skilled labor market, where they must compete against each other for work
- A 10 percent immigrant-induced increase in the supply of a particular skill group is associated with a reduction in the black wage of 2.5 percent, a reduction in the black employment rate of 5.9 percentage points, and an increase in the black institutionalization rate of 1.3 percent.
These facts are not lost within the black community. Recently Rev. Jesse Jackson spoke out for an aid package for the city of Chicago, which is dealing with high crime, unemployment and lack of opportunity among the city’s poor. The immigration crisis is even changing the way many mainstream media outlets are reporting on the issue. CNN columnist Sally Kohn wrote in a recent article, “The i-word is un-American,” that using the word illegal is the same as using the n-word. In her article she writes, “Today, most people find the n-word and the f-word incredibly offensive. Let’s hope that most, if not all people will feel the same way about the words “illegals” and “illegal immigrants” in the not too distant future.”
But fundamentally the question has to be asked. Are there enough low-skill jobs for blacks and illegal immigrants who may be granted amnesty? These discussions and statistics seem to pit black against brown once again in the racial culture of America.