April 29, 2015
A new Pew Research Center study should serve as a wake-up call for African-Americans who haven’t gotten on board to fight Congress for sensible immigration policies. Non-involvement in the fray has already cost blacks their status as the nation’s largest minority. For more than a decade, Hispanics have outnumbered blacks in the quest for preferred minority status. As one African-American radio host told me, “We’re yesterday’s news.”
In 2013, 54 million Hispanics made up 17 percent of the total U.S. population versus 41 million African-Americans, or 13.1 percent. Hispanics eclipsing blacks in the U.S. population came as no surprise to Census Bureau demographer Roberto Ramirez who said it was long ago predicted been that Hispanics would someday surpass blacks because of higher birth and immigration rates. Ramirez added that the trend shows the gap, likely illegal immigration-fueled, will increase in future years.
Now, according to Pew, African-Americans will have to compete for jobs and community standing with new wave of immigrants—Caribbean Jamaicans and Haitians as well as an influx from several African nations, mostly sub-Saharan countries. Since Jamaica and Haiti are the two largest birth countries, their U.S. populations will increase rapidly.
Between 2000 and 2013, the number of black African immigrants living in the U.S. rose 137 percent, from 574,000 to 1.4 million. Africans now make up 36 percent of the total foreign-born black population, up from 24 percent in 2000 and just percent in 1980.
In some large metropolitan areas, foreign-born blacks comprise a double digit share of the aggregate black population. About one-in-three blacks in Florida’s Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach metro area, or 34 percent, are immigrants; in the New York-Newark-Jersey City metro region, immigrants represent 28 percent of the total black population, and in the Washington D.C. area, 15 percent.
Black immigrants arrive through several federal immigration programs: asylee or refugee, diversity visa, immediate relatives of U.S. citizens and employment-based preferences. As such, they are legal permanent residents with work authorization, and will compete with under-employed black Americans in an increasingly tight labor market for ever-fewer good jobs. Because of corporate America’s push for greater diversity in its work force, foreign-born blacks could have an advantage in a job search over native-born African-Americans whose aggregate U-6 unemployment rate hovers around 20 percent. In March, 12.2 million working age black Americans were out of the labor force.
African-Americans will have to push back harder to end immigration legislation that hurts them like the fraud-ridden refugee and diversity visas as well as chain migration. While there are some black individuals who have spoken out against mass immigration, as a voting block African-Americans remain largely silent and therefore ineffective.
To underline the problem that immigration poses for blacks, Peter Kirsanow, an African-American member of the U.S. Civil Rights Commission, recently told reporters that President Obama’s amnesty that would legalize about five million aliens represents “a bigger threat to black livelihood” than all their other challenges combined.
Yet the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, ignoring its constituents best interests, consistently votes for higher immigration, and unanimously supported the 2013 Gang of Eight Senate bill that would have more than doubled existing and already record level immigration.
America’s first obligation is to its citizens. A responsible immigration plan would promote higher wages, greater employment opportunities, and improved working conditions for all Americans including struggling blacks. Obama’s plan does the opposite by flooding the labor market with more under-skilled overseas workers who, by their very presence, make African-Americans’ road to advancement more difficult, if not impossible.
Joe Guzzardi is a Californians for Population Stabilization Senior Writing Fellow. Contact him at [email protected]