The reason why more Blacks can’t find work? According to Republicans, it’s those illegal Latinos.
This week in a session of posturing and aversion, House Republicans argued that more minorities would be back to work had it not been for illegal immigration. While there are more than just African-Americans who fit under the “minority” category, the Republicans lead by Rep. Lamar Smith and Rep. Elton Gallegly used statistics about Black unemployment. And “illegal immigration” would encompass more than just Hispanics if Republicans had included other ethnic groups into their blame game.
In theory, if Hispanics were taking all the jobs available to Blacks, the Republican leadership would never have to answer for the unemployment rates seen in both groups. But truth is that immigration is not to blame for Blacks who can’t find jobs. As Wade Henderson, chairman and CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights points out that for 50 years Black unemployment has been double that of Whites, a level that’s remained constant through swells and lows in immigration:
“(Denial of equal opportunity in education, criminal justice, housing and jobs) continues to contribute more directly to the high unemployment rate that African Americans endure and not the issue of illegal immigration as has been cited by virtue of this hearing.”
Black Democrats have been very vocal in combating the GOP rhetoric and speaking out against the strategy to divide and conquer. Following last week’s hearing, Rep. Emanuel Cleaver II, chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus responded to the Republican argument saying:
“I am concerned by the majority’s attempt to manufacture tension between African Americans and immigrant communities. It seems as though they would like for our communities to think about immigration in terms of ‘us versus them,’ and I reject that notion.”
The research does not support the GOP stand. Last week the Economic Policy Institute released several studies on the state of Black men looking and found they share many of the same obstacles to economic stability as immigrant men. Both groups share may of the same obstacles: lack of education, low-skill and low wages. But those problems are reflective of a systemic problems that legislative reform, not grandstanding will help.
Finding from the National Research Council show that immigration boosts the income of American workers overall by as much as $10 billion, but that it does slightly reduce the wages of the lowest skilled Americans. The NRC studies found that immigration had no negative effect on the wages of black Americans as a group.
With unemployment still high and disproportionally affecting Blacks, African-Americans have every right to feel frustrated- but it’s not with Hispanics or any immigrant group, with House leadership.
After two years of raising hell, Republican leaders in the House of Representatives have been forced to move from the backseat to take the wheel. Now, many from the right are being forced to temper their immigration agenda with the importance of the Hispanic vote in 2012. Regardless of what they want to see, the new GOP majority in the House is responsible for helping craft legislation that can aid the process of putting Americans back to work now. Instead of doing what our taxes require them to, they are crafting new ways to subvert the conversation and turn the groups most affected by their neglect against each other.
Hispanics aren’t keeping Blacks out of jobs, it’s the GOP that needs to get back to work.