Who Is Hurt?

Mass immigration harms poor and black American workers


• The National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences concludes that immigration was responsible for “about 44% of the total decline in relative wage[s] of high school dropouts… between 1980 and 1994.”

• The RAND Corporation reports that, in California, “the widening gap between the number of jobs available for non-college-educated workers and the increasing number of new non-college-educated immigrants signals growing competition for jobs and, hence, a further decline in relative earnings at the low end of the labor market.”

• The U.S. Commission on Immigration Reform, chaired by Barbara Jordan… finds that “immigration of unskilled immigrants comes at a cost to unskilled U.S. workers…”

• The Hudson Institute states that “U.S. immigration policy serves primarily to increase the number of U.S. residents who lack even a high-school degree. America must stop recruiting workers for jobs that do not exist or exist only at the lowest wages.”

• The Brookings Institution publishes a paper concluding that “immigration has had a marked adverse impact on the economic status of the least skilled U.S. workers…”

• The Center for Immigration Studies calculates that “immigration may reduce the wages of the average native in a low-skilled occupation by… $1,915 a year.”

Before the House Subcommittee on Immigration, 3/11/99

Government-mandated immigration policy is maintaining a system that falls hardest upon Americans at the bottom of the economic ladder, those who have little schooling and must rely on low-skilled work to make a living. The rich get richer as the job market becomes more favorable to employers and the poor get poorer as the low-skilled labor pool is filled with still more desperate immigrants. The harmful effects of overimmigration hits mainly on those already at the bottom — the poor, the low-skilled and working-class African-Americans. Around 300,000 immigrants arrive annually who have less than a high-school education. Forty percent of California's immigrant community has fewer than 12 years of school, while the future job market will require hi-tech skills.

Representative Lamar Smith's House Immigration Subcommittee held hearings in March 1999 that addressed how mass immigration affects the lives of working Americans. Some of the information in this article comes from this testimony of experts before Congress. [See the sidebar for excerpts from Rep. Smith's excellent opening statement.]

Rep. Smith informs us that, according to the National Academy of Sciences, “Each immigrant with less than a high school education will cost American taxpayers $89,000. That is, the government benefits consumed by each immigrant will exceed taxes paid by $89,000.” With 300,000 such immigrants entering annually, that means a cost of $27 billion for each year's group over their lifetimes. This money could be better spent on education and training for American citizens who need these benefits; it is money that could be spent on preserving Social Security and extending healthcare to the tens of millions of Americans not now covered.

Divide and conquer is hardly a new technique of employers against workers to drive down wages and break union organizing. Employers have made a practice of pitting immigrants against African-Americans since before the Civil War. Starting in the 1820s, Europeans began to displace free black workers in the U.S. Employers preferred immigrants who would work long hours for low pay. The abolitionist Frederick Douglass remarked, “Every hour sees the black man elbowed out of employment by some newly arrived immigrant whose hunger and whose color are thought to give him a better title to the place.”

Some Americans today find the hard-work success story of the immigrant to be an affirmation of the American dream. There are certainly enough of these tales in the press. However, one rarely sees the other side of the equation in the media about the American who can no longer find work in gardening, roofing, auto repair and many other fields that once provided a middle class living for families. As wages are depressed by an oversupply of cheap low-skilled labor, less-educated homegrown workers find it more difficult to find jobs that will support them.

Why does Congress accept millions more uneducated immigrants while low-skilled Americans of all colors find an increasingly shrinking job market? The answer is of course the big campaign checks from business interests. The pro-immigration ethnic lobby (La Raza, MALDEF, etc.) figures strongly too, as it seeks to extend its political power by demographic warfare.

It is offensive to hear the business press prattle on about all the jobs that Americans won't do. The Wall Street cheerleaders never ask who did those jobs before the immigration onslaught. Americans did them, back when blue-collar employment paid a living wage.

The list of “jobs Americans won't do” grows ever longer with millions more immigrants in the workforce. It once included only truly unpleasant or dead-end jobs like picking strawberries or digging ditches. However, the mythical list of jobs Americans won't do now extends to roofing, house building and meat packing — blue collar employment that paid middle class wages just a few decades ago, before immigrants were brought in by the millions to swamp labor markets. (In the 1990s, half of all new workers were immigrants, compared with just 10 percent in the 1970s.) Remarkably, some even state that Americans won't program: President of the Electrical and Electronic Engineers Bruce Eisenstein made the remark that programming was “work that Americans don't really want to do.” as a justification for bringing in more foreign workers. That would be news to many technical workers who send out hundreds of resumes after being laid off for cheaper H-1B foreign labor.

People who work for a living should be alarmed. No one's job is safe, and black Americans are particularly at risk.

— by Brenda Walker


Immigration's Human Cost: Job Displacement
All Americans are harmed by excessive immigration, if not by job loss for a cheaper foreign worker, then by the elevated taxes required to pay for the benefits immigrants use in higher percentages.

Testimony before Congress
Terry Anderson, an auto mechanic from South Central Los Angeles, describes how his community and life have changed because of the relentless invasion of illegal immigrants.

The Terry Anderson Show
Tune in on your radio or computer (using RealAudio) to hear Terry's fire-breathing radio show on Los Angeles station KRLA 870 am on Sunday nights at 8 pm Pacific time. In Janurary 2003, Terry Anderson's op-ed was published in the Houston Chronicle.

Cast Down Your Bucket: Black Americans on Immigration
The Center for Immigration Studies paper provides important historical context.

Affirmative Action for Immigrants
Even though affirmative action was created to address the wrongs of slavery, immigrants are now major beneficiaries.

The Diversity Scam
Michael Lind finds it curious that “the United States… is the first government in history to engage in racial discrimination against some native citizens on behalf of some (but not all) immigrants.”

The New Jungle
U.S. News & World Report's 1996 stories about how Mexicans are recruited to work in the meat-packing industry — at jobs that were previously well paid union employment.

Hiring from Within
Michael Lind's article in Mother Jones appealing to populists to look past immigration mythology toward a policy of reducing immigration to raise the wages of lower- and middle-class Americans.

Does Immigration Harm the Poor?
The Center for Immigration Studies analyzes the effect on wages of millions of immigrants added to the low-skilled labor pool.

Frederick Douglass Resources
Writings, speeches, history of abolition movement — thorough.

Los Angeles janitors end strike
This historical analysis compares the “gains” by immigrants in 2000 (wages $7-8 per hour) versus what black union janitors made in the 1980s ($13 per hour) before union busting and the Hispanic influx of cheap labor.

Hispanic Influx in Deep South Causes Tension with Blacks
Demographic changes in the South are causing some African-Americans new problems and competition.

Hispanics Match Black Populace in Census
Blacks will be increasingly overlooked as the important minority group, most likely.

When Worlds Collide
Blacks have reservations about influx of Hispanic immigrants, according to this North Carolina black newspaper.

Shutting the Open Door Policy
A further reflection by blacks on changing demographics raised by the article “When Worlds Collide,” now that Hispanics outnumber African-Americans in the U.S. and are showing up in places that are not traditional immigrant destinations. North Carolina “led the country” in Hispanic growth over the decade with a Latino increase of 394 percent.

Oakland Classroom Battle
Black parents struggle to have their children taught in English in Oakland, California. One black father sued the school district to get his son an education in English rather than in Cantonese.

Segregation trends emerge in high-tech industry
Ethnic networking in Silicon Valley serves to keep out blacks.

The Impact of Immigration on California
This article from the Center from Immigration Studies considers the economic effects on the most impacted state and includes much interesting economic data, i.e., “Immigration in the 1970s lowered the wages of high school dropouts by between 10 and 16 percent annually.”

Immigration Policy to Blame for Stagnant Wages
Rep. Lamar Smith names excessive immigration as the reason that the standard of living for working people did not rise in the nation's longest period of economic expansion.

Rise in campus diversity raises fairness issues
Hispanic and Asian college applicants can take foreign-language tests in the newly emphasized SAT II exams, which give an advantage to immigrants ahead of English-speaking black Americans. “Diversity was supposed to be a secondary benefit, which was tacked on after the program was developed, but which now has become the primary objective,” remarked Harvard sociologist Orlando Patterson.

New data prove that two-tier society is a fact of California life
Columnist Dan Walters analyzes why a major reason for widening disparities of income and wealth is immigration.

As their numbers rise, so does political pull
The Christian Science Monitor examined the growing clout of Hispanics in 2001: "In Watts, a gritty Los Angeles neighborhood once populated mostly by blacks, Hispanics now make up 60 percent of the residents."

Work Americans Won't Do
Unemployment among black Americans increased by 2 percent from 2001 to 2002 to reach 10 percent. In November 2002 the number was 11 percent, versus 6 percent for Americans as a whole. But instead of questioning open-doors immigration, the NAACP is focused on the symbolic issue of the Confederate flag.

Racial Percentages of Californians, Census 2000
At 6.4 percent, black Californians rank below Asians (10.8%) and just above "other" (3.75). For example, take a look at this animated map of the Los Angeles area that shows the incredible increase of Hispanic population from 1940 to 2000, displacing black neighborhoods in numerous cases.

The World's Retirement Home?
In 1997 the Investor's Business Daily reported on the abuse of America's social welfare system by elderly immigrants. Even though sponsoring adult children sign an agreement that their aged parents will not become a public charge, it is common (even normal) for elderly Asian immigrants to go on welfare the moment they become citizens. As a result, truly needy Americans must go without subsidized housing because it is being used by elderly immigrants.

Redrawing the Ethnic Map
Long-time black families are moving out of the San Francisco Bay Area, as Latinos move in. The Hispanics are more willing to stack in family members beyond the nuclear ones who can pitch in for making the mortgage payment. Middle-class black families are often choosing a suburban community with better schools.

Just say no for a while to immigration
Black columnist Stanley Crouch recommends suspending immigration from Muslim countries for a decade, noting, "I am not willing to see American lives put in danger to make an academic point about our history and our ability to rise above xenophobia and religious prejudice." He further recognizes that immigration has historically been economically harmful to blacks.

Mutual Mistrust
The Washington Times describes the ongoing struggle between American blacks and the millions of Mexicans who are displacing them in schools, housing and jobs. "They took our homes and our schools. Our elderly are being forced to move out because of new schools the city had to build to hold all of their kids," says Los Angeles resident Morris Griffin of the 'infiltrators.'

Latino Voter 'Si,' Black Voter, No?
Columnist Earl Ofari Hutchinson looks hard at the Hispanics and how they are surging ahead of blacks in pure population numbers. An analysis of voting is more complex, but Hutchinson believes that black politicians have not served their communities well.