January 17, 2007
Blacks benefit from crackdown on illegal immigrants
Stark evidence now exists that a crackdown on illegal immigration greatly benefits poor blacks. We have a teachable moment in the immigration debate, if only the movement to protect our borders has the wit to capitalize on it, and add a vital and potent constituency. It is one thing for theorists like me point out the basic economics, but it is quite another to have real people in a real town demonstrating that economic laws really work.
Elementary economics teaches us that augmenting the supply of low skill labor in the United States with the presence among us of millions of illegal immigrants has driven down prices (also known as wages). Other members of the low wage labor pool have suffered, prominently including blacks, and also those low skill workers who have legally immigrated.
Today, a Wall Street Journal article describes the effects of a crackdown on illegal immigrants and how it effected one company in particular.
After a wave of raids by federal immigration agents on Labor Day weekend, a local [Stillmore, GA] chicken-processing company called Crider Inc. lost 75% of its mostly Hispanic 900-member work force. The crackdown threatened to cripple the economic anchor of this fading rural town.But for local African-Americans, the dramatic appearance of federal agents presented an unexpected opportunity. Crider suddenly raised pay at the plant. An advertisement in the weekly Forest-Blade newspaper blared "Increased Wages" at Crider, starting at $7 to $9 an hour -- more than a dollar above what the company had paid many immigrant workers. The company began offering free transportation from nearby towns and free rooms in a company-owned dormitory near to the plant. For the first time in years, local officials say, Crider aggressively sought workers from the area's state-funded employment office -- a key avenue for low-skilled workers to find jobs. Of 400 candidates sent to Crider -- most of them black -- the plant hired about 200.A customer at a convenience store in Douglas, Ga., told April Paulk, a part-time clerk, that a recruiter was in town looking for workers. Ms. Paulk passed the word to her husband, 32-year-old Germaine Royals, who had just been laid off from the latest in a series of temporary jobs. Both are African-American.
Further enforcement actions would clearly benefit America's black population. It would also actually do something to lower the income gap between the middle class and the poor.
Needless to say, the major media is in no hurry to publicize this reality. The Democratic Party depends on continuing to receive 90% support from black voters, and would never dare to advocate cracking down on illegals. The severe conflict between the interests of its poor black and illegal immigration constituencies is a major vulnerability.
Coincidentally, a Los Angeles Times op-ed column today by Erin Aubry Cooper also addresses the complexity at the core of this looming conflict.
Black leaders in the late 19th and early 20th centuries had critiques of the effect of immigration on black employment, [Prof. Daryl] Scott said - but many of those same leaders also supported immigration because it jibed with their beliefs in an open society for all and fair competition for blacks. Of course, U.S. employers supported immigration as well, but that was because they tended to prefer any labor pool but a black one.
The difference between then and now, Scott said, is that black leadership then wasn't in denial about this. But when it joined the New Deal coalition and the Democratic Party, which supported open immigration, its voice was compromised. Scott believes in coalition politics, but "blacks aren't senior partners in the coalition."
Honesty, social justice and political pragmatism require that conservatives make clear to Americans that it is the poor, and poor blacks in particular, who bear the brunt of the economic costs of illegal immigration.
Hat tip: Ed Lasky