Black leaders: Gang of 8 ‘devastating’ for black community

A group of black leaders will issue an open letter Monday calling on members of the Senate “Gang of Eight,” the Congressional Black Caucus, and senators from states with the highest rates of black unemployment to consider the impact the Senate’s immigration bill will have on black unemployment.

“[It] is our position that each Member of Congress must consider the disastrous effects that Senate Bill 744 would have on low skill workers of all races, while paying particular attention to the potential harm to African Americans. Credible research indicates that black workers will suffer the greatest harm if this legislation were to be passed,” the letter, signed by members of the Black American Leadership Alliance, reads.

Currently the black unemployment rate hovers around 13 percent, nearly twice the national average.

Citing separate research from Harvard University economics professor George Borjas, University of California San Diego economics professor Gordon H. Hanson, Professor Vernon Briggs of Cornell University, and others, the signers assert that mass legalization and increases in immigration will disproportionately harm black Americans, specifically by depressing wages and increasing competition for low-skill jobs.

“Many studies have shown that black Americans are disproportionately harmed by mass immigration and amnesty,” the letter reads. “Most policy makers who favor the legalization of nearly 11 million aliens fail to acknowledge that decades of high immigration levels have caused unemployment to rise significantly, most particularly among black Americans.”

The letter notes that while the Gang of Eight immigration bill will increase visas for high skilled workers, black workers will be the ones who will suffer the most if the bill passes.

“Of course, some of the immigrants referred to by Senate Bill S. 744 work in high-skill sectors, but the vast majority of them will compete with young Americans for entry level jobs, including jobs traditionally held by black workers in the low skilled wage sector,” the letter says.

The letter explains that one reason for this is that black Americans are disproportionately likely to lack a high-school diploma or a college degree, placing them in direct competition with new immigrants for low-skilled jobs. In 2011, the letter notes, 26.4 percent of black Americans without a high school diploma were unemployed and 15.5 percent of black Americans who had a high school degree were also unemployed.