Obama’s website downplays de facto amnesty

Neil Munro | White House Correspondent

President Barack Obama’s campaign website is downplaying the stunning news about his de facto amnesty of at least 800,000 illegal-immigrants, possibly for fear of push back from his African-American base amid record unemployment.

The website, which is a gusher of information about the president’s policies, his supporters’ campaign-trail work and the GOP’s shortcomings, shows a nine-minute video of his Friday Rose Garden announcement on the Latino and Spanish-language sections of his website.

But there’s no mention of the de facto amnesty in the African-American section.

Instead, that section carries June 15 posts showing African-American volunteers registering African-American voters in Delaware County, Penn., and in Lansing, Mich., The section also displays a short profile of the campaign’s African-American Louisiana state director, Pat McCollough.

The blog on the main page of the campaign website carried the announcement on Friday, June 15, but the announcement slipped into a subsidiary “see more” page by Sunday, June 17.

Hispanic immigration has been a very sensitive issue in the African-American community for more than a decade, partly because Hispanics compete against working-class African-Americans for low-skill jobs and cheap housing.

Most African-American legislators are loath to get involved in the controversy because it puts them in conflict with allied Hispanic legislators and advocacy groups.

White House officials did not hold any press conferences about the decision, presumably to manage the media coverage of President Obama’s proclamation. If that was the aim, the effort was partly successful because few media outlets — aside from TheDC and the Washington Post — highlighted the decision’s impact on unemployed Americans.

A Daily Caller review of several political blogs run by African-American activists also showed little coverage of the announcement and of the impact on working-class African-Americans — though the NAACP did issue a June 15 endorsement of the de facto amnesty.

The organization is a leading part of the Democrat’s diversity coalition, along with gay and lesbian groups and various ethnic lobbies, such as La Raza.

“President Obama is taking an affirmative step toward addressing our nation’s immigration concerns …[and] ensures that America retains a future generation of well-educated workers and thinkers who can offer diverse perspectives on the challenges of the twenty-first century,” read a statement signed by NAACP President and CEO Benjamin Todd Jealous.

However, other African-American groups have avoided the issue.

The de facto amnesty is not mentioned on websites run by the Congressional Black Caucus and the National Urban League.

Obama’s semi-amnesty comes five weeks after his controversial May 8 decision to back a legal redefinition of marriage. His support for same-sex marriage came as influential gay-friendly donors were pressuring the White House, and his announcement helped spur his May fundraising to $70 million, up from $43 million in April.

But the switch prompted complaints from African-Americans group opposed to same-sex marriage.

So far, there’s been little visible damage to his polling support among African-Americans, although one outlier June 12 poll by Public Policy Poling tentatively showed that 20 percent of African-Americans in North Carolina now support former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.

That startling result has yet to be validated by other polls.

The Pew Research Center estimated Friday that Obama’s de-facto amnesty could provide work-permits for 1.4 million of the roughly 11.2 million illegal immigrants in the country. Pew’s figure includes roughly 650,000 kids in middle school and elementary school who could eventually qualify for the de-facto amnesty.

The de-facto amnesty risks a push back from African-Americans because of the nation’s record unemployment.

For example, less than half of eligible African-American men aged 18 to 29 are in the full-time workforce, according to figures by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Youth summer unemployment is even higher.

In families earning less than $40,000, only 14 percent of African-American teens and 19 percent of Hispanic teens were employed in the summer of 2011, according to a study by Northeastern University’s Center for Labor Market Studies.

Youth unemployment tends to permanently reduce annual income, according to the center.

But Obama’s June 15 announcement may spur Hispanic voters in the battleground states of Florida, Colorado and Virginia, said Jamal Simmons, a Democratic political strategist.

“It’s a medium risk, high reward strategy,” he told The Hill newspaper. “I think you risk angering people who are upset about immigration, yes… [but] it is definitely something that can give the Latino community something to rally around.”

The June 15 Rose Garden announcement came one day before a White House Hispanic Community Action Summit at Montgomery Blair High School in Silver Spring, Md.

The event featured numerous White House officials and Latino political activists, but was announced only on June 15 and received minimal media coverage.

President Obama will be in Mexico Monday and Tuesday at the G-20 summit, likely further reducing media coverage of his immigration announcement.

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