AUGUST 18, 2014
Illegal immigration has a particularly disastrous effect on the employment of black Americans and disproportionately impacts the wages and work opportunities of African-American men, according to a member of the United States Commission on Civil Rights.
In a letter to President Obama, the commissioner, Peter Kirsanow, blasts the administration’s plans to grant legal status and work authorization to millions of illegal immigrants. Kirsanow is an African-American lawyer with an Ivy League degree who also sits on the National Labor Relations Board and the Center for New Black Leadership. He is a presidential appointment to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights which was established by Congress in 1957 to enhance enforcement of federal civil rights laws. The agency has eight commissioners, four appointed by the president and four by Congress. They serve six-year terms and play a vital role in advancing civil rights through objective and comprehensive investigation, research and analysis.
“Any grant of legal status will serve as a magnet to prospective illegal immigrants and further depress employment opportunities and wages for African-Americans,” Kirsanow writes to the president. “Given that the labor force participation rate is at a historic low, the unemployment rate is 6.2 percent and there has been a precipitous decline in household wealth, the timing for such a grant of legal status could not be worse.” The veteran civil rights commissioner cites expert testimony and research conducted by his agency in the last few years to back up his words.
As an example Kirsanow tells the president about a 2008 commission briefing to address the impact of illegal immigration on the wages and employment opportunities of African-Americans. Despite ideological diversity, a number of well-regarded scholars from leading universities and independent groups acknowledged that “illegal immigration has a discernible negative effect on black employment,” Kirsanow confirms. This is because illegal immigrants and blacks are disproportionately low skilled and often compete for the same jobs, according to one scholar cited by the commissioner. Other research has found that illegal immigrants had displaced U.S. citizens in industries that had traditionally employed large numbers of African-Americans, such as meatpacking.
“Granting legal status to millions of people who are in the United States illegally will continue to depress the wages and employment opportunities of African-American men and teenagers,” Kirsanow writes. “It will also depress the wages and employment opportunities of African-Americans going forward. The civil rights commissioner goes on to blast the commander-in-chief for igniting the recent flood of illegal immigration by granting legal status to those living in the U.S. illegally. “When you incentivize bad behavior, you get more of it,” Kirsanow tells Obama.
The civil rights commissioner also slams the president with one of his administration’s favorite arguments on behalf of minority civil rights. It’s called disparate impact on the basis of national origin and Kirsanow asserts amnesty will constitute an unlawful discrimination because it will disproportionately benefit a particular group—Mexicans and Central Americans—and disproportionately disadvantage other ethnic groups. This would be considered a violation of Title VII, Kirsanow writes referring to the section of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Here’s another great point that few have bothered to bring up; an executive order granting amnesty is unfair to people who are attempting to immigrate legally, the commissioner reminds.
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