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Black Voices. Latino Voices. Asian Voices. Unfortunately, the slogan either willfully or unconsciously ignores two important facts: the forced removal and mass murder of indigenous people, and the brutal trans-Atlantic slave trade. The creation of a false collective national-origin narrative by some immigrant rights activists fosters an unnecessary tension between recent immigrants and US-born marginalized communities.


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Native Americans and most African Americans do not have a conventional immigrant story, yet they can and should be a part of the movement for immigrant rights. The anti-immigrant argument that appears to resonate most among African Americans is the assertion that immigrants take jobs away from black people born in the US. African-American unemployment, though steadily declining since , is still the highest of any racial or ethnic group in the country.

Black People Think Trump’s Immigration Policies Are Wrong and Will Vote Accordingly

While Trump has spared no opportunity to boast that African-American unemployment briefly hit a record low of 6. This number — as Trump opportunistically noted during his campaign in his attacks on former President Barack Obama, only to drop the caveat when he took office — does not account for people who dropped out of searching for employment altogether after years of unemployment. Additionally, the percentage encompasses people employed in temporary jobs who might prefer full-time work. The unemployment rate also fails to capture those working but not making a living wage as well as those working two or more nearly full-time jobs and scraping by.

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Those numbers provide a starker picture. The growth of low-wage worker population has at least two distinct effects: first, the devaluation of low-wage work as unskilled and menial; and, second, the establishment of perceived competition for these jobs among the groups constituting the working poor.

Positioning one group of low-wage workers against another group of low-wage workers is an insidiously effective method of fomenting resentment and tensions among workers of different racial and ethnic backgrounds, which only buttresses the status quo. In a poll on African-American perspectives on immigration reform, 34 percent of respondents stated that immigrants took jobs away from American workers. Thirty-nine percent of respondents believe that immigrants drive down wages for African Americans.

African-American Migrations, s to Present | The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross | PBS

On the brighter side, roughly two-thirds supported a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. In truth, while there are a handful of studies that indicate a small but noticeable negative impact of immigration on African-American employment, those studies are highly contested by scholars.

Anti-immigration advocates seize on those disputed studies to fuel anti-immigrant attitudes and policymaking. What this fear fails to account for, however, is that population growth can catalyze job growth , specifically in the fields of low-wage goods and services, and manual labor.

Immigrants steal African-Americans' 14th Amendment 'birthright’ – civil rights activist

More people means more consumption, and, specifically, more consumption by the working poor. Nevertheless, those striving to push through xenophobic, racist, Islamophobic, and inhumane immigration restrictions find unusual allies among some African Americans seeking to lower the black unemployment rate. Leaders of groups such as the Chicago-based Voices of the Ex-Offender link mass unemployment among formerly incarcerated African-American men to immigration. But there are receipts for racial discrimination and other barriers for African Americans seeking employment.

But anyone genuinely concerned about addressing racial disparities in unemployment should be wary of supporting a position trumpeted by people who have rarely, if ever, cared about improving the status or collective well-being of African Americans. Racism and xenophobia propel a significant portion of anti-immigrant sentiment and proposed legislation; the mobilization of those sentiments hurts African Americans. These stereotypes are strikingly similar to anti-black racist stereotypes.

Black immigrant dollars are essential to the financial health and growth of black communities in the United States. More importantly, black immigrants and their cultures are integral to African-American communities — and to the US as a whole. Undocumented black immigrants are also at great risk of deportation, as they encounter the double bind of anti-black policing and racist immigration laws and policies.