Project 21’s Hicks Debates Illegal Immigration in Orlando Sentinel

P21JoeHIcksProject 21 member Joe Hicks made a forceful case against possible Obama Administration amnesty for illegal immigrants in a commentary that appeared in 8/22/14 Orlando Sentinel, one of the largest newspapers in the state of Florida.

The Sentinel reached out to Project 21, the National Center’s black leadership network, after the first of a series of press releases on immigration was published.  Members of Project 21 are aggressively pointing out how potential executive action on the part of Barack Obama that would effectively legalize millions of foreigners residing illegal in the United States would pose a threat to black Americans in ways such as competition for jobs, educational opportunity and other factors.

In Joe’s commentary, he wrote:

Obama is effectively ignoring the plight of black workers who have lost economic ground and struggled mightily during a recession from which America has yet to fully emerge.  The unemployment rate for blacks in 2013 without a high school diploma was 20.5 percent; for those with a diploma, it was still disproportionately high at 12.6 percent.  The rate for all races was 7.4 percent, and 6.5 percent for white workers.

Highlighting the dilemma is that unauthorized workers and black entry-level citizens have a similar median age — approximately 36 and 39 years old, respectively.  Once settling largely in border areas, unauthorized immigrants are now migrating to major urban areas and rural areas in southeastern states that also tend to have higher black populations.  This puts unauthorized immigrant workers in direct competition for jobs with black citizens.

All too often, a claim is made that low-skilled black workers are simply unwillingly to work low-paying jobs or that foreigners work harder.  But that’s not the case.  Studies have shown a driver of unauthorized immigrant labor is their willingness to work for substandard wages in substandard conditions.

And it’s not just black workers who are harmed by those entering the country illegally. Unauthorized-immigrant workers also harm the employment prospects of all low-skilled domestic workers.  For example, the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta conducted a study that concluded that, because of growth in the state’s population of unauthorized immigrants,”… the annual earnings of the average documented worker in Georgia in 2007 were 2.9 percent ($980) lower than they were in 2007.”

Joe later added:

As civil rights leaders now converge on Ferguson, Missouri to claim racism in the police shooting of Michael Brown, they are strangely silent on the economic threat illegal immigration poses to millions of low-skilled black workers.  Might it be that these leaders have simply become loyal foot soldiers to partisan politics and a president who looks like them?

This commentary was part of a regular pro-con feature that the Sentinel runs every Friday.  Joe’s opposition in this match-up was Frank Sharry, the founder of the immigration special interest group America’s Voice.  Sharry strongly supported unilateral action on the part of President Obama to allow illegal aliens to flood American workplaces, writing:  “Is such a move good policy?  Definitely.  Staying the deportation of low-priority immigrants and giving them work permits on a temporary, revocable basis are well-established practices in immigration enforcement.  In Florida alone, some 500,000 immigrants could benefit.  And a program to register undocumented immigrants and turn them into documented taxpayers will improve the economy and workplace conditions for workers and employers alike.”

In making Joe’s point, Sharry boasts that the overall job market in the state of Florida will increase by half-a-million prospects at Obama’s stroke of a pen.  In July, Florida’s unemployment rate was 6.2 percent, with 597,000 residents looking for work.  Amnesty has the potential to almost double the number of Floridians competing for jobs in an uncertain economy.

Joe’s full commentary can be read by clicking here.

Wondering why Joe doesn’t use the term “illegal alien” in his commentary?  It wasn’t submitted that way.  The Orlando Sentinel stylebook does not allow the terms “illegal alien” or illegal immigrant.”  Grudgingly, “unauthorized” was allowed by Project 21 to be substituted for the more appropriate “illegal.”

The National Center for Public Policy Research, founded in 1982, is a non-partisan, free-market, independent conservative think-tank. Ninety-four percent of its support comes from individuals, less than four percent from foundations and less than two percent from corporations. It receives over 350,000 individual contributions a year from over 60,000 active recent contributors.