If you’re a Democrat and you question the party orthodoxy on immigration, prepare to be excommunicated.
That’s the grim lesson of a recent fracas involving Our Revolution, the progressive advocacy group founded by Senator Bernie Sanders. Our Revolution fired its “National Justice” director after she publicly pointed out that excessive immigration can hurt low-wage American workers. The staffer, Tezlyn Figaro, a woman of African American and Latina descent, took to Twitter to complain about foreigners “coming into the country and getting benefits that Americans do not get.”
Figaro voiced an uncomfortable truth, and her dismissal reveals a stunning hypocrisy within modern Democratic politics. The party claims to champion the economic well-being of black and Hispanic Americans; yet it also supports unfettered immigration, which depresses wages and reduces job opportunities for minority American workers.
Immigrants – both legal and illegal – tend to congregate in large cities and join the unskilled workforce. In fact, in the past 20 years, immigrants who lack high school diplomas have increased the size of the low-skilled workforce by 25 percent.
That puts them in direct competition with African Americans, who disproportionately occupy the low-wage urban labor market. Work from Harvard economist George Borjas shows that when immigration increases the size of the labor pool by 10-percent, wages for African American men drop 2.5 percent – and their employment rate declines by 6 percent.
The U.S. Civil Rights Commission Commissioner Peter Kirsanow emphasized how this competition can lock young workers out of the job market: “You eliminate the rungs on the ladder because a sizable number of African American men don’t have access to entry-level jobs.”
Democrats can’t be champions for African Americans when they advocate for endless immigration amnesties. This includes their support for “sanctuary cities,” which stymie the deportation of dangerous criminals and their opposition to mandatory worker verification enforcement.
In June, a number of high-profile Democratic mayors pulled out of an immigration meeting with President Trump in retaliation for the
administration’s crackdown on sanctuary cities.
Pointing out the damage done by free-flowing foreign labor wasn’t always condemned by left-leaning lawmakers. Back in the early 1990s, Barbara Jordan, a civil rights icon and the first African American woman from the South ever elected to Congress, proclaimed that there was “no national interest in continuing to import lesser skilled and unskilled workers to compete in the most vulnerable parts of our labor force.” She called for cutting immigration by a third.
A decade later, a Democratic senator warned that a “huge influx of mostly low-skill workers… threatens to depress further the wages of blue-collar Americans.”
That senator was Barack Obama, writing in his 2006 book The Audacity of Hope.
Around the same time, Paul Krugman, a liberal Nobel Prize-winning economist, openly acknowledged that “the fiscal burden of low-wage immigrants is… pretty clear.”
Democratic leaders can’t claim to care about black and Hispanic Americans while supporting immigration policies that rob their most loyal voters of jobs and wages.
Tom Broadwater is president of Americans4Work, a nonprofit that advocates on behalf of American minority, veteran, youth, and disabled workers.