Black caucus backs immigration bill, despite potential hit to black employment

The Congressional Black Caucus is backing the Senate’s far-reaching immigration bill, which promises to double the inflow of low-skill immigrants who compete against low-skill African-Americans for jobs.

“It’s good for African-Americans, it’s good for Americans,” Rep. John Lewis told The Daily Caller as he left the White House after the caucus met with President Barack Obama on Tuesday.

“It’s good for African-Americans, and it’s good for the nation,” Rep. Hank Johnson, who also represents black constituents in Georgia, told TheDC.

TheDC asked Ohio Rep. Marcia Fudge, the CBC’s chairwoman, if the caucus has asked Obama to pay a price in exchange for its support of the controversial immigration bill, which is one of Obama’s top 2013 priorities.

“We didn’t ask the president to pay a price on anything,” Fudge told TheDC.

The CBC’s passivity is “egregious political malpractice,” said Peter Kirsanow, a labor-lawyer and a member of the U.S. Civil Rights Commission.

Many African-Americans oppose the proposed amnesty of 11 million immigrants which they see as threat to their jobs and wages, Kirsanow said. On talk-radio, “the number of calls that come in are overwhelming and they are stridently opposed,” he said.

“The folks on the ground get it… they see the adverse effects, and they don’t want it doubled by another immigration bill,” he said.

On July 15, numerous African-American leaders are expected to lead a Washington D.C. rally against the immigration bill. The event, dubbed “DC March for Jobs,” is being organized by the Black American Leadership Alliance.

More than twenty members of the 41-member black caucus met Tuesday with Obama at the White House.

“Every member had an opportunity to raise their issues, and the president addressed those which he could… all of us are pleased where we are,” Fudge told reporters outside the West Wing of the White House.

For example, members asked Obama to direct more federal funding to their districts, and objected to a recent Supreme Court curb on federal regulation of states’ voting rules, said Fudge.

“They discussed a range of topics including the economy, voting rights legislation, education, comprehensive immigration reform, youth employment, gun violence, and anti-poverty programs,” said a White House statement.

The president and members said little about the immigration issue, Fudge said.

“We did discuss immigration, but more to the degree that we want to be sure that the immigration bill — which they are saying is comprehensive — is in fact comprehensive, and that it includes people from the Caribbean and from Africa, which had heretofore been done by diversity visas,” she told TheDC.

Aiding foreign blacks is the caucus’ main priority in the immigration debate, she indicated.

“We want to be sure that the people we represent, those who come from underserved countries, poor countries, are included in the bill,” she said.

“That was the extent of our discussion about immigration,” she added.

When asked about immigration’s impact on African-American unemployment, Fudge talked about federal jobs programs.

The caucus asked Obama to “target funds to the communities of most need,” she said.

In 2009, the federal stimulus act directed some funding to poor districts via a “10/20/30” amendment pushed by South Carolina Rep. Jim Clyburn, the top-ranking member of the caucus, who is the third-ranked Democrat in the House caucus. The amendment’s name comes from the funding formula, which directs federal funding to counties where 20 percent of the population has been under the federal poverty level for 30 years.