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Yes, black lives do matter. But so do immigration facts.

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Black Lives Matter’s new foray into the immigration policy debate has pro-enforcement advocates scratching their heads. The group included immigration in their recently announced policy platform and they’ve formed a side-project called the Black Alliance for Just Immigration (BAJI). They’ve also been one of the chief pushers of the #Fix96 campaign; a reference to the pro-border security laws put in place by Bill Clinton in 1996.

Apparently unknown to the group’s leadership, however, is that this 1996 law was born out of the recommendations of civil rights icon, Barbara Jordan and the federal immigration commission she led in the mid-nineties. And among previous black activists, Jordan wasn’t alone. From Frederick Douglass to W.E.B. DuBois to Coretta Scott King, BLM’s forbearers understood the disastrous effects unregulated immigration has on black society and the black economy—Oddly, BAJI recently accepted something called the Frederick Douglass award from a New York foundation, despite Douglass’s restrictionist-leanings. Yes, black lives do matter, but so do historical facts. And economic ones too. Here’s lesson in each.

{mosads}In 1994, the majority of blacks in California voted for prop 187; the citizen referendum that ended public benefits to illegal aliens before it was overturned by a federal court judge. Those voters weren’t stupid. As the Atlanticobserved at the time,“even if these communities (blacks and Hispanics) make common political cause, do they have any choice about economic competition?” “The almost total absence”, the magazine wrote, “of black gardeners, busboys, chambermaids, nannies, janitors, and construction workers in a city with a notoriously large pool of unemployed, unskilled black people leaps to the eye.” Things haven’t got any better since.

In the fifty years since our current mass immigration system was created, the black experience has been one of continued shattered hope. Studying census-data from around 1965 (when immigration became dramatically expanded) to 2000, economist Gordon Hanson found that a 10 percent immigrant-induced increase in the labor supply is associated with a 4 percent reduction in both the black wage and employment rates. Between 1980 and 2000, immigration accounted for about 40 percent of the overall 18 percent decline in black employment rates as well as half the 20 percentage point increase in the incarceration rate of black high school dropouts. Similar findings have been found by economists Andrew Sum, George Borjas, and Harry Holzer.

Immigration’s negative trickle-down effect on black America doesn’t end there. Immigration economist Vernon Briggs has written a lot on how the worsening situation for black laborers, mostly males, passes onto their households and affects the entire social structure of black society. Today, almost half of black women ages 25-44 are not married compared to 15 percent of white women; a fact, he writes, that’s no doubt partly due to the increasing difficulty black men have in finding a traditional standard of living in an overcrowded labor market.

Such concentration also puts stress on urban schools. Per-pupil spending decreases greatly as bilingual programs and special education classes for underprepared Latin American students work to divert resources. Then there’s affirmative action. With the Hispanic population (including illegal aliens) soon to double that of blacks the slots available to the latter in set-aside programs, colleges, and public employment must shrink. It’s as if the beginning of our modern mass immigration system in 1965 evaporated the pent-up gains from the civil rights struggle.

The drop in unionization rates, caused in large part by our unending supply of foreign labor, has also had debilitating effects on black America. The once heavily black meatpacking industry up to the early 1980s had a unionization rate of almost 50 percent, offering average wages of $22.33 per hour (economist Gerald Jaynes’s figures). Those who’ve watched Barbara Kopple’s excellent documentary, American Dream, will know the corporate attacks these unions faced that decade. As the film shows, corporations such as Hormel and Tysons “solved” their union problem by moving facilities closer to the border and recruiting labor brokers to find “new” replacement workers. Today, a quarter of these workers are illegal aliens.

Other specific industry examples are instructive. The Government Accountability Office has reported that due to unregulated immigration, custodial firms in Los Angeles by the late eighties had managed to largely replace their unionized black work force with nonunionized foreigners. As for food services, the agency cited a survey of restaurant managers which found that the majority believed immigrants did in fact hold down wages and replace native workers.

Without a doubt, the members of the Black Congressional Caucus, like most politicians, fail to raise this issue in large part due to the campaign contributions they receive from the foreign-labor lobby. Considering that BLM’s main financier, George Soros, is the number one funder of open-borders causes, one wonders if money’s corrupting the message. What is certain, if BLM was willing to match its capacity for righteous indignation with actual intellectual rigor on this issue, black lives will be far better off.

Smith is an investigative associate with the Immigration Reform Law Institute.

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