By Joe Guzzardi
September 3, 2013
For a decade, immigration activists have attempted to persuade Congress that it should pass reform legislation because their cause is identical to black Americans’ civil rights movement 50 years ago.
In 2003, illegal immigrants nationwide boarded what they called Freedom Rides to demand their perceived rights. They hoped to evoke the Freedom Riders of the early 1960s. Then in 2012, busses with illegal immigrant passengers headed to the Democratic National Convention. Finally, last week during the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King’s March on Washington, effrontery reached its peak. The Hispanic Lobby, congressional amnesty advocates and so called African-American leadership insisted that the push for comprehensive immigration reform has the same “moral tone” as the long ago black civil rights movement. Clarissa Martinez de Castro, the National Council of La Raza’s immigration policy director, summed it up when she told NBC News that “at the core,” the issues are the same.
While it’s predictable that La Raza, U.S. Representative Luis Gutierrez and like-minded pro-amnesty Hispanic lobbyists would grasp at any straw to promote their agenda, how prominent blacks can put their weight behind comprehensive immigration reform defies belief. Nevertheless, the White House has done all it can do to advance amnesty. In an April speech to the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund, Attorney General Eric Holder said that citizenship should “transcend” immigration status and is “a matter of human and civil rights.” Interpreted another way, a logical conclusion is that Holder equates law breaking with civil rights.
The radical left’s comparison of the black civil rights movement to amnesty for illegal immigrants displays an offensive, blatant, revisionist interpretation of American history. American-born, black citizens did not demand, as aliens are doing, to be exempt from U.S. law. Instead, they were seeking the equal application of the law.
Since 1986 when border and internal immigration law enforcement eroded to the point of nonexistence, blacks have been set back more than any demographic group. As a black friend recently told me, “We’re nowhere.”
Ten years ago, Hispanics displaced blacks as the nation’s largest minority. Fueled mostly by illegal immigration and high birth rates among those immigrants, Hispanics remain America’s fastest growing sector. In some major cities like Chicago, Hispanics outnumber blacks. As a result Hispanics have gained the political edge while blacks’ influence is waning. Witness the leverage Hispanics have demonstrated in the current immigration debate.
In the job market, immigration’s effect on blacks is devastating. The direct relationship between native-born American unemployment and sustained high immigration has accelerated since 2008. Blacks have been disproportionately hurt. According to the most recent Current Population Survey findings, U.S.-born black teens, blacks age 18-29 with only a high school education, and black high school drop outs age 18-29 have U-6 unemployment rates of 17, 44 and 54 percent respectively.
Many blacks need tight labor markets to help them get back to work. Yet, the White House in concert with the Hispanic lobby promotes authorizing 11 million aliens unemployable today because of their immigration status. Many of those immigrants have limited education and few skills. About 30 percent of all foreign-born workers and about 60 percent of those from Mexico and Central America haven't earned a high school degree. Illegal immigrants are generally more likely to have little formal education.
If legalized, those immigrants would compete head-to-head with blacks for entry and mid-level jobs. Black unemployment, already too high, would increase correspondingly.
The Congressional Black Caucus should speak up. Unfortunately, it is solidly aligned with the White House: Hispanics come first; blacks are left on their own.
Joe Guzzardi is a Californians for Population Stabilization Senior Writing Fellow whose columns have been syndicated since 1986. Contact him at [email protected]