Credits: Reuters/Overpass for America

Credits: Reuters/Overpass for America

Yesterday the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit shut down President Obama’s plan to protect up to 5 million undocumented immigrants from deportation, which means immigration reform will continue to be a hot button issue through next year and more than likely the next president’s entire administration.

According to the Washington Post, “There are an estimated 11 million immigrants living in the country illegally.” If you’re a conservative, it’s likely you want every last one of them gone. But how do you, as an African-American, feel about illegal immigrants, particularly in lieu of allegations that their presence actually inhibits our economic growth in the country?

In 2010, Cord Jefferson wrote an article for the Root titled “How Illegal Immigration Hurts Black America” and when he was asked to explain his stance in a follow-up appearance on NPR he stated:

I think that, unfortunately, African-Americans are disproportionately low skilled. And African-Americans are disproportionately low educated. And those are the jobs that illegal immigrants are most often taking. And so I think that African-Americans who are low skilled and low educated who are out looking for employment in this sort of economy, they are competing with illegal immigrants of which there are millions. And so, I think that that’s why they’re disproportionately affected by this.

Asked to clarify whether his gripe is solely with illegal immigration or legal immigration as well, Jefferson explained:

“I think that in my estimation and in my reporting, I think that I was sort of looking at illegal immigration only. And I think that the reason that I was is because illegal immigrants, rather, far more than their legal counterparts are highly exploitable. And I think that that is one of the main reasons that you find these employers who are looking for cheap labor, who are unwilling to hire African-Americans or low-skilled Americans of all races who are unwilling to hire them instead of an illegal immigrant.”

Though we may be five years removed from the time when Jefferson made these claims, the climate which he spoke to hasn’t changed much, which begs the question of whether the stance of the black community has. So often immigration reform is seen as solely a conservative vs liberal debate that only affects the Latino community. Little regard is given to other immigrants of color, simply because their presence is far less than that of Hispanic immigrants, but it’s also taboo for American people of color who believe illegal aliens are robbing them of employment opportunities to voice that opinion for fear of seeming anti-Latino and right-winged. In fact, such claims often dredge up the retort that illegal immigrants work jobs most African-Americans don’t want anyway or feel are beneath them, and considering the wage these immigrants often have to settle for, the conclusion is typically that the only ones benefiting from immigration are companies employing Hispanics illegally.

But has even the marginally better way of life immigrants have achieved crossing the border into the U.S. disproportionately crippled the African-American labor force or would we still be in the same boat regardless?

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  • Chazz A

    IMO, illegal immigration affects black people negatively because we don’t have our own infrastructure. We are dependent on a biased system of government that was not initially designed for us to compete on an equal level. Unskilled and low- educated blacks are in direct competition with illegal immigrants. This presents a deeper rooted issue seldom discussed on news outlets. In many cases, unskilled black people are forced to work at a lower wage due to stiff competition from illegal workers, who often accept a lower wage.
    The burden that illegal immigrants have on state services such as public assistance and medical care are key issues in large urban cities, making it difficult for natural born citizens that depend on these services, not to mention the burden on tax payers.
    The mass media has put a Hispanic face on illegal immigration just as they put a black face on crime. However, the northern borders have been the gateway for thousands of Europeans, especially from the former Eastern Bloc, that enter the country illegally and there are entire communities of them, here in NYC.
    They have the unique advantage of blending in with white society, which gives them access to opportunities and inclusion without being under the media spotlight that Hispanics are dealing with currently.
    All things considered, illegal immigration is not the 12 thousand lb elephant in the room, its capitalism within the system of white supremacy that hinders the upward mobility of black people.

  • K_

    I agree with the him and I also agree with the a comment statement about using resources. I will NEVER forgot a few years ago when I was flat broke and had nothing. I couldn’t breathe one night and was struggling and went to the emergency room. When all was said and done they told me to sign up for this certain program that would take care of the bill. Again I will NEVER forget going to the place, waiting all those hours for this application, that line and in the end being told I didnt qualify because THAT insurance was for ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS ONLY.. i couldnt believe it. This is all pre obama care but my point is i had no idea that immigrants even have the right to insurance and could get some..some stuff just really boils by blood. its like how are citizens out here dying but there is actually a program for non citizens.

    • Mrs.J

      Maybe the staff lied to you.I know as far as getting welfare and food stamps there is a different way or route illegals have to take but that doesn’t sound right.You gave up to soon.I would’ve walked out of there with something.

    • K_

      hey Mrs J. i did in fact walk out of there with NOTHING but they did redirect me to a service ( i thought i included by my fingers were typing faster than my brain) but i had to start the process all over. I guess my only point was that i didnt even know a service like that existed and it made me mad on the point that there are citizens all over america w/o health insurance and dying and sick but in my state there is an actual program for non citizens.. im not against immigrants illegal or otherwise…it just does not compute in my brain how they have access to so many services and “help” when citizens dont

    • Mrs.J

      I don’t understand why that made you mad.There probably is a way for illegals to get healthcare and there is a way for American citizens to get health care.The American citizens do have access to help some of them just are to lazy to go and get help.I think you’re wrong about the illegal aliens getting help and not American citizens.The main people on government assistance are black and white Americans.

    • K_

      well again this was pre-obama care so at the time there were no health care insurances for people without children. Even what I did end up getting was an emergency service plan that would take care of the bill. I do not have children, I was just unemployed as many were during the recession. As such, despite me not having children and being an able bodied adult there was nothing for me to qualify for. The thinking (which i do agree with partially) is that you are an able bodied adult so get your own damn insurance. Which i get, but people fall on hard times as so many did during that time. So i stand by what I said, it did make me angry that as a child free citizen there were no programs to where I could get health insurance but there was a program for non citizens. It just didnt make sense to me. It seems to me something would be set up for citizens to get insurance. But this is my last as Im through with this article, we’ll just agree to disagree. take care

    • Mrs.J

      Yea if you don’t have kids whether you’re an American citizen or an illegal,it’s harder to get help.Now it’s easier of course.I’m glad they change that because people without kids need help sometimes too.Even if you have kids but make like 25,000 a year they don’t even want to help you.That’s just the world we live in.Take care!

  • Myra Esoteric

    I think that the notion that undocumented immigration hurts black Americans rests upon a lot of misguided notions, like minorities being “low skilled”. I think it’s very divisive.

  • Rastaman

    There are a lot of immigrants who are here in the US because there countries have been destabilized by US foreign policy: War on communism, War on drugs, IMF/World Bank financial exploitative policies, War on terror etc. Pretty much the same policies that have been used to oppressed African Americans for centuries have been exported abroad to many other less developed nations. The results are many people leaving the land of their birth and their families and traditions in order to hopefully make a better life for themselves in the US. Just think of the great migration from South to North in African American history and you can better understand why someone would uproot their family, their children to travel to a place where they knew few if any people, oftentimes did not speak the language nor understand the laws or culture plus had no legal right to work. On top of that faced hostility from the local inhabitants.
    If Americans truly believe illegal immigration threatens their way of life then we need to ensure that we change how our government operates internationally. It is our government polices that are largely responsible for displacing many of these people’s lives and drive to come to the US for a better opportunity. But also consider if the US does not invest much into the most vulnerable of its citizens here it is very unlikely it will change for the better in its international policies.

    • Mico

      Thank you.

    • [email protected]

      You’re 100 percent right.

  • i mean

    No more than Black people in the workforce hurt working class white men in the early 30’s and 40’s. Its the same narrative, while I only STAN and cap for Black people, let’s not allow this whack age old rhetoric to be used by Black people against other people of color. The lack of jobs and financial opportunities is an issue of shared wealth, and that’s it. The only issue I have with the Latino community is their culture of anti-Blackness, that’s it.