If Barack Obama gets his wish for an illegal alien amnesty, he will have set African-American causes back further than any president in recent memory. During a period when black unemployment is brutally high, either legal residency or a full blown amnesty that includes citizenship would authorize an additional 11 million workers to compete with blacks for scarce jobs.
The Census Bureau’s American Community Survey’s latest data found the following U-6 unemployment statistics for U.S.-born blacks: young adults 18-29 with a high school diploma, 41.8 percent; high school drop outs age 18-65, 61.0 percent and teens age 16-17, 53.6 percent. The federal government’s U-6 unemployment rate includes not only people actively looking for employment who cannot find any kind of job but also counts “discouraged workers” who stopped looking and those who want a full-time job but have been forced to settle for a part-time position.
Obama’s apparent disregard for blacks’ plights dates back to his administration’s first days and continues today. In 2009, Obama supporter Danny Glover charged the president with not doing enough for blacks. Obama retaliated on the American Urban Radio Networks that he cannot pass legislation that favors one demographic over another but could pass “laws that help all people especially those who are most vulnerable and most in need.”
But the fact that passing amnesty would devastate blacks as well as other unemployed Hispanics and poor Americans is beyond argument. Anyone who can do simple math can figure out that adding 11 million potential workers seriously hurts the job chances of the 20 million unemployed or under-employed Americans.
Plus there’s the ongoing problem of legal immigration that adds about 1 million more workers to the market every year. Legal immigration is on autopilot. Regardless of the depressed economy and high unemployment, legal immigration totals continue at relentlessly high annual levels.
Nevertheless, in his State of the Union address President Obama with the Congressional Black Caucus’ wholehearted support promoted amnesty under the guise that those living here illegally are hard working and deserve a chance to succeed. Mr. Obama also called for more legal immigration to, ironically, “create more jobs.”
As more amnesty details emerge over the next few weeks, President Obama may find it increasingly difficult to hide from its negative impact on blacks. Earlier this week, two representatives from the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights wrote to Mr. Obama to spell out the obvious-that an “effective amnesty” would result in fewer jobs and lower pay for black Americans. “Effective amnesty” means a bill that would allow aliens to legally remain and work in the U.S regardless of whether they obtain citizenship.
The representatives, Peter Kirsanow and Abigail Thernstrom pointed to a 2008 study their commission funded that found the economics of putting previously unemployable aliens into the job market crystal clear and ruinous: low-skilled blacks compete with low-skilled illegal immigrants, thus depressing wages.
Because foreign-born workers, both legal and illegal, disproportionately compete with black Americans, reducing immigration would therefore disproportionately help black Americans, something Mr. Obama said in 2009 he didn’t think he could do.
Some blacks may face hurdles other than immigration when they look for work. But with the political will to do it, changing immigration policy could be the easiest to overcome. Congress should pass true immigration reform that would put rigid caps on legal immigration and at the same time establish mandatory E-Verify that would insure that everyone who holds a U.S. job is legally authorized to be employed.
Joe Guzzardi is a Cagle Cartoons syndicated columnist. Email him at email@example.com