The Corner

Immigration

Situational Racism, Part CXVII

The prototypes for President Donald Trump’s border wall stand behind the border fence between Mexico and the United States, in Tijuana, Mexico, January 7, 2019. (Jorge Duenes/REUTERS)

Democratic opposition to construction of a border wall is ostensibly based on three primary contentions: a border wall (1) is immoral, (2) doesn’t work, and (3) is racist.

The first two contentions are utterly nonsensical for a host of reasons, not the least of which is that they can’t both be true. If a wall is immoral because it keeps out desperate migrants, then it must work.

The accusation of “racist,” progressives’ default epithet for nearly everything they oppose, is similarly incoherent. It’s true that there would be a disparate impact on “people of color” if a wall were built on the southern border. But to paraphrase Willie Sutton, that’s where the illegal immigrants are. A wall is colorblind.

The Left habitually conflates facially neutral policies that have racially disparate results with racism. That’s because more than half a century after passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, instances of disparate treatment and intentional racial discrimination are increasingly difficult to find. Disparate impact is a far easier standard to meet. As my colleague Gail Heriot says, there’s not a standard, test, or policy that doesn’t have disparate impacts between different groups.  Invoking disparate impact provides the Left with almost unlimited opportunities to engage in racial and social engineering to “correct” the disparities.

The same progressives who maintain that a wall is racist are utterly silent about the adverse impact of illegal immigration on black Americans. More than any other group in America, blacks are harmed by the influx of illegal immigrants. Numerous studies outline the economic impact of illegal immigration on black employment and wages. Hundreds of thousands of black workers have been displaced due to competition from low-skilled illegal immigrants, particularly in the service, hospitality, construction, and agricultural sectors of the economy. Yet not one protest from members of the Congressional Black Caucus, who have anointed themselves the guardians of black interests, nothing from the Democratic party that takes black votes for granted, nothing from members of news media who breathlessly broadcast any racial disparity under some version of the headline “World Ends; Women and Minorities Hardest Hit.”

In contrast to neutral policies that have an unintentional racial impact, however, the failure to secure our borders happens with knowledge of, but indifference to, the fact that blacks are particularly harmed by illegal immigration.

Blacks simply can’t compete with progressives’ hatred of Trump and desire to enhance their electoral prospects.

Peter Kirsanow — Peter N. Kirsanow is an attorney and a member of the United States Commission on Civil Rights.

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