Obama’s Immigration Policies, if Adopted, Would Prejudice U.S. Immigration Policy Against Immigrants from Africa

Obama’s Threatened Executive Actions Would Legalize Millions from Central America and Mexico While His Legislative Agenda Would Cut African Immigration by a Quarter

Washington, D.C. – Expected executive action by President Barack Obama to block illegal aliens from deportation would create a de facto preference in immigration law favoring immigrants from the Americas and create a relative prejudice within U.S. immigration policy against would-be immigrants from elsewhere, including Africa, say members of the Project 21 black leadership network.

The tens of thousands of Africans who are granted legal immigration status in the U.S. every year are but a tiny percentage of the millions of Latin Americans who would be granted legal status by President Obama if his rumored executive amnesty takes place.

The disparity between permitted African and Hispanic immigrants threatens to grow even wider if S. 744, the Senate immigration bill President Obama vigorously supports, is enacted, as its passage could cut already-meager legal immigration from African nations by one-quarter even as millions of Hispanic illegal immigrants are legalized.

The Senate immigration bill eliminates the diversity visa program, which provides immigration opportunities for people from nations with low immigration rates. Enacted in 1990, it historically has benefited would-be immigrants from Africa. In 2012, 50 percent of the people offered visas through this program were from African nations compared to 2 percent from South and Central America and the Caribbean. In 2010, 24 percent of all immigrants from Africa granted permanent residence in the U.S. achieved that status through the diversity visa program1 the Obama-supported immigration bill would eradicate.

Legal immigration numbers vary among countries and continents and are regulated by the U.S. government. The rumored executive action by the President would dramatically alter the distribution to favor immigrants from the Americas and disadvantage people from Africa, Europe, Asia and Oceania, Project 21 members say.

Project 21 members also note that African immigrants have a record of seeking to become U.S. residents and/or citizens in a lawful manner and do not deserve to have their legal quotas sharply cut both in numerical and relative terms while Central American and Mexican illegal immigrants are rewarded.

Facts and Figures

  • Approximately 41 million Americans are immigrants. Immigrants from Africa make up nearly 4 percent2 while about 36 percent are from Mexico and Central America (8 percent from Central America3 and 28 percent from Mexico).4 15 percent of the world population lives in Africa while 3.6 percent lives in Mexico and Central America combined (2 percent in Central America and 1.6 percent in Mexico).5 So America has 9 times as many immigrants from Central America and Mexico compared to all of Africa, even though more than four times as many people live in Africa as in Central America and Mexico combined.
  • Based on 2008 turnout data compiled by the U.S. Census Bureau, Hispanic naturalized citizens turn out to vote at a higher rate than U.S.-born Hispanic citizens. In 2008, naturalized Hispanic citizens were more likely to vote than U.S.-born Hispanics by 6 percentage points (54 percent to 48 percent).6 This differs from the pattern seen among non-Hispanic naturalized citizens, who typically are less likely to turn out to vote than U.S.-born citizens. Hispanics generally have a low voting turnout rate (in 2012, it was 48 percent, compared to 66.2 percent for blacks and 64.1 percent for whites7), prompting candidates who expect to win the Hispanic vote to devote considerable resources to encouraging Hispanic turnout.
  • The number of Hispanic voters has grown considerably in both numbers and influence, and Hispanic voters tend to favor Democrats. 1.4 million more Hispanics voted in the 2012 presidential election than in 2008,8 and 3 million more Hispanic voters voted in 2008 compared to 2004.9 In 2012, Hispanics voted 71 percent for the Democratic Party’s presidential candidate and 27 percent for the Republican Party’s. In 2008, Democrats won this vote 67-31 percent.10 11 Should President Obama “legalize” millions of Hispanic illegal immigrants by executive action, the Democratic Party is expected to benefit considerably when many of these newly-legal residents inevitably become naturalized. Under current law, prospective citizens may qualify for naturalization if they are at least 18 years old and have been a permanent resident for at least 5 years (or 3 years if married to a U.S. citizen) and meet all other eligibility requirements.
  • African immigrants tend to vote Democrat, but their vote as a group is less valuable to the Democratic Party than that of Latin American immigrants. This is a) because the number of African immigrants is dramatically smaller and b) because African immigrants have tended not to settle in swing states. The Washington Post reported in 2008 that about 40 percent live in the New York City area and 10 percent in the District of Columbia.12 About half of all the relatively few African immigrants in the United States live in California, New York, Texas, Maryland, DC or Virginia,13 of which only the last is presently regarded as a swing state.
  • An annual global limit of 675,000 exists on the number of visas issued by the U.S. Department of State, with some exceptions allowed for immediate family members.14 Specifically, there are 480,000 visas available for family and 140,000 for employment.15 In keeping with the Immigration and Nationality Act, the State Department’s visa office manages visa allotments per-country on a monthly basis and has strict cut-offs, based on dates in which applications are filed, that determine who may be initially eligible to apply.16
  • In 2012, according to the U.S. Department of State, 42,167 immigrants from sub-Saharan Africa were granted immigration visas17 and, according to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, 74,775 immigrants from all African countries became naturalized citizens.18 Throughout the Obama Administration, the number of visas granted to people from sub-Saharan African nations has ranged between 38,000 and just over 47,000 annually, while annual naturalizations ranged from around 64,000 to 75,000.19
  • According to the Migration Policy Institute, adult immigrants born in Africa were more likely than native-born Americans to have bachelor’s degrees or higher. The Immigration Policy Center reports that “two-fifths of African immigrants have at least a bachelor’s degree, and more than one-third work in professional jobs.”20
  • African immigrants are more likely to participate in the civilian labor force than other immigrants of the same gender and also are more likely to participate in the civilian labor force than are native-born Americans. Specifically, African-born immigrant males over 16 had an 83.7 percent labor force participation rate compared to 80.0 percent for all foreign-born men and 69.1 percent for native-born men. African-born women had a higher labor force participation rate, 67.2 percent, than all foreign-born women at 57.4 percent and native-born women at 60.2 percent.21
  • Only 29.1 percent of immigrants from Africa had limited English proficiency, compared to 52 percent of immigrants overall.22
  • The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Immigration Statistics estimated there were 11.4 million illegal immigrants in the United States as of January 2012.23 Exact numbers of arriving illegal immigrants per year is impossible to determine, but 409,849 people were deported in fiscal year 201224 and 368,644 in fiscal year 2013.25
  • To obtain a legal visa for work or residency, an applicant must be sponsored by family, a lawful resident or employer26 and pay an application processing fee.27 They must also undergo a rigorous screening process that includes proving their financial stability,28 good health,29 good moral character and lack of a criminal record that would cause concern30 and submit to an interview with U.S. officials and a fingerprint scan.31 An attorney is not required, but some applicants do seek legal assistance and that practice is not discouraged by the State Department.32
  • There is a high demand for work visas. The H1-B visa program that allows for temporary work permits allowing businesses “to employ workers in occupations that require highly specialized knowledge in fields such as science, engineering and computer programming” reached its 85,000-applicant limit for fiscal year 2015 in April 2014.33
  • Some who obtained temporary visas later added to the illegal immigration problem. An estimated 40 percent of all illegal immigrants are people who illegally overstayed otherwise legal visas, according to Sara Murray of the Wall Street Journal,34 who also reported last year, “Of the people who gained legal status in 2003 and also spent time in the U.S. illegally, 13% overstayed tourist visas by more than six years.”35 Murray also reported, “…over the past decade the number of new arrivals overstaying their visas has fallen sharply, likely due in large part to stringent security measures put in place after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.”36

What Project 21 Members Say About Potential Amnesty and its Effect on Legal Immigration

“As a former staffer for a member of Congress who worked with constituents to resolve their immigration problems, I can say with first-hand experience that those following our immigration laws are experiencing longer wait times as a result of all the attention and resources devoted to helping those who purposely circumvented our laws. Legal immigrants are forced to wait while those entering illegally are, for instance, enrolling in our public schools. It appears our immigration policy now is ‘break the law and we will break our backs to help you. Do it the right way and we punish you for it.'” — Project 21 member Shelby Emmett, Esq., a former congressional staff member and radio talk show host

“If the Obama Administration grants any type of amnesty that allows the illegal immigrants invading our country to stay, the President will basically be spitting in the face of every foreign-born naturalized American citizen who went through the proper legal path to citizenship. One such foreign-born naturalized citizen is my wife, who came from Africa. Like millions of other law-abiding foreign nationals, she waited in line and played by the rules when applying for her green card and ultimately becoming naturalized. How utterly disrespectful it would be to her and others — especially those from far-away lands — if President Obama simply gives the millions of illegals currently in our country a pass because they were able to slip across our border.” — Project 21 member and social commentator Darryn “Dutch” Martin

“It’s a travesty that there are Africans, Asians and others who would like to come to our nation and are willing to follow the rules who may lose out on their dream because someone else did not play fair, yet is essentially being rewarded by Obama for breaking the law. What this president can do to help the black community, and Americans of all colors, is get out of the way and stop this executive amnesty talk. Stop the job-killing policies he has set up through the EPA and ObamaCare to destroy workers, the middle class, and small business. Cut the social engineering of allowing this influx of illegals to flood the country in order to force amnesty. These would be good first steps.” — Project 21 member Wayne Dupree, talk show host on WAAR and Internet radio pioneer

What Others are Saying About Illegal Immigration’s Impact on Legal Immigration

  • In 2012, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service shifted attention from regular visa processing to deal with illegal immigrants due to President Obama’s “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals” (DACA) executive memorandum that halted deportation enforcement for certain young illegals.37 It reportedly delayed 500,000 legal applications in the process. Mark Kirkorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, wrote: “That’s half a million husbands, wives, and children of U.S. citizens — people whose expeditious immigration even I support, wholeheartedly — [who] have seen their wait times triple because the administration dumped an illegal amnesty program in the lap of an overwhelmed bureaucracy at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, with no additional resources to handle the workload. That means USCIS had to pull people off the processing of legal immigration applications to handle the amnesty applications of illegal aliens, leading to the increased wait times… [H]alf a million illegal aliens have received amnesty, forcing half a million husbands, wives and minor children of American citizens to go to the back of the line.”38
  • In an analysis of “administrative amnesty,” such as Obama’s 2012 DACA memorandum, Heritage Foundation Vice President Derrick Morgan and Homeland Security Research Associate David Inserra wrote: “Such presidential nullification of established immigration law is unjust to those who decided not to come to the United States because they would be doing so without authorization. Millions of people would fit into this category in Mexico alone. Granting amnesty for another class of people who violated our laws treats those who respect our laws with contempt. It is also unjust to the millions of Americans and resident legal immigrants who followed the rules. Many had to follow our sometimes lengthy process as relatives or spouses of those here legally. Others simply wanted to come to study or work in the United States and followed the rules to do so legally. Granting blanket amnesty to those who neglected to follow our law is a slap in the face to those who are following the rules.”39

  • Criticizing pending legislation in 2012 that would grant amnesty to illegal aliens, U.S. Representative Lamar Smith said: “President Obama’s amnesty blatantly ignores the rule of law that is the foundation of our democracy and violates his oath to uphold the laws of the land. Congress has the constitutional authority to determine our nation’s immigration laws… Executive branch discretionary authority is meant to be applied on a case-by-case basis, not to entire categories of illegal immigrants.”40
  • “There is nothing ‘anti-Hispanic’ about wanting to treat fairly the millions of Hispanics and other foreigners who have immigrated to this great country legally or are waiting in line to come here legally. On the contrary, those who equate lawlessness with being somehow pro-Hispanic or those who would punish law-abiding Hispanics waiting in line for the American Dream are far closer to being the racists.”41Charles Hurt, Washington Times columnist

So far this year, members of the Project 21 black leadership network have been interviewed or cited over 100 times by the media on the issue of immigration. Project 21 members were also interviewed or cited by the media over 1,000 other times this year, including TVOne, the Philadelphia Inquirer, Fox News Channel, Westwood One, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, SiriusXM satellite radio and 50,000-watt talk radio stations such as WBZ-Boston, WJR-Detroit and KDKA-Pittsburgh, on issues including civil rights, entitlement programs, the economy, race preferences, education and corporate social responsibility. Project 21 has participated in cases before the U.S. Supreme Court regarding race preferences and voting rights and defended voter ID laws at the United Nations. Its volunteer members come from all walks of life and are not salaried political professionals.

Project 21, a leading voice of black conservatives for over two decades, is sponsored by the National Center for Public Policy Research (http://www.nationalcenter.org).

Contributions to the National Center are tax-deductible and greatly appreciated.


Project 21, a leading voice of black conservatives for over 25 years, is sponsored by the National Center for Public Policy Research. Its members have been quoted, interviewed or published over 40,000 times since the program was created in 1992. Contributions to the National Center are tax-deductible and greatly appreciated, and may be earmarked exclusively for the use of Project 21.