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Speaking Up for Yesterday’s Minority



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Three members of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights — Abigail Thernstrom, Gail Heriot, and NRO’s own Peter Kirsanow — have written to the Congressional Black Caucus about the likely harm to black Americans from granting amnesty to illegal aliens. Their concluding graf:

Before the federal government decides to grant legal status to illegal immigrants,due deliberation should be given to what effect such grant will have on the employment and earnings prospects of low-skill Americans generally and black Americans specifically. We respectfully submit that granting such legal status is not without substantial costs to American workers.

It’s consistent with the CBC members’ disconnect from their constituents that they are uniformly in favor of amnesty and de facto unlimited immigration, despite the fact that virtually every black leader, from Frederick Douglass to A. Philip Randolph and Barbara Jordan, was critical of mass immigration, and black citizens today favor less immigration and more enforcement by wide margins. I spoke at an Urban League policy conference once where one of the attendees, an Urban League official from L.A., I think, said something to the effect that “We all know that whenever this topic is on black talk radio the phones light up with people complaining about immigration.”

What’s lacking is an enterprising black politician who is also gifted enough to be able to talk about the immigration issue in a forthright way that does not sound to black ears like ethnic demagoguing, something which his audience would be especially, and understandably, sensitive to. I thought Harold Ford Jr. could have pulled it off in Tennessee when he ran for Senate in 2006 — he was a moderate Democrat overall, had a grade of C on immigration while in the House, which is pretty good for a Democrat, and his opponent was a wealthy businessman who’d hired illegal workers. Had he taken a calmly populist stance on immigration, he would certainly have gotten more than the 40 percent of the white vote he ended up receiving and won the race — all he needed in the end was a swing of 25,000 votes.

In any event, even when this latest amnesty push fails, mass legal immigration will continue at the rate of more than 1 million per year, and Latin Americans and Asians will just be the latest immigrant groups to climb over black Americans.



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