The story of mass immigration's effects on the job prospects of young black men is one of the most underreported major stories in contemporary American life. Part of the reason is that the reporters who cover immigration often see the issue through a civil rights frame that presents immigrants, particularly those who are in the country illegally, as so vulnerable to abuse and victimization that they should be shielded from criticism. When such a sensibility is at work, the displacement of young black men from the workplace is apparently too disconcerting to be acknowledged or written about.
An African-American caller to C-SPAN's "Washington Journal" last Saturday expressed his frustration with the displacement of young blacks by illegal immigrant workers.
"This is completely destroying the black community," said the man, who was calling from Fort Wayne, Ind. "The black community right now — unemployment is high. There is no work coming for the youth in the cities. The only job they have is drugs. I mean, it's nonsensical. It's stupidity."
Then the in-studio guests, Frank Sharry, executive director of the immigration advocacy organization America's Voice, and Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, weighed in on opposite sides of the issue.
Said Sharry: "Well, I think the problem of African-Americans in the United States is not mostly, directly related to immigration. There's a history, obviously of segregation and slavery and discrimination that is going to require and still requires lots of work in terms of civil rights legislation and educational supports and work training, etcetera. The idea that immigration is the main cause, I just don't buy it. The evidence doesn't prove it at all."
Said Krikorian: "The fact is that immigration is part of the reason that we are seeing the problems. ... There is simply no question that the economic progress of black Americans stalled as immigration started increasing, that young people, especially minority Hispanic native-born Americans as well as black Americans are the first people to suffer either wage reduction or job loss because of excessive immigration."