NumbersUSA announced earlier this week an ad campaign that highlights how current immigration policy may be impacting the labor markets for Black Americans. The advocacy group claims that immigration policy is allowing some one million immigrants into the United States while three million Black Americans are unemployed. Check out an example of the group’s television ads here.
“Our leaders need to get rid of their antiquated thinking and step into this century,” commented Roy Beck, president of NumbersUSA, a non-partisan grassroots organization with more than 1.3 million participants. “Their lack of interest in the incredibly high number of African Americans and Hispanic Americans who can’t find a job suggests a lot of ugly things about our leaders’ attitudes toward these most vulnerable members of our society, including that they just may not believe these Americans want to work. It’s time to reduce mass flows of immigrant workers and make putting Americans back to work the top priority.”
I’ve been making this argument for years. Why literally import employees when you have citizens here in the U.S. that want to be trained and put to work. The traditional excuse has been that American employers can’t find the skilled employees that meet the requirements of today’s jobs. What may be happening is that the purchasers of labor don’t want to pay the price asked for by the current supply of labor. In other words, in face of this scarcity, employers don’t want to pay higher costs of labor acquisition, including costs for training home grown employees. Importing employees expands the labor supply thus making rates offered by labor a bit more competitive.
If you throw in the traditional pattern of racism, Black Americans may not only be hurting from a lack of demand for their services, but also may have to take lower wages in light of the additional competition.
The policy question is, should the federal government interfere with the labor markets by allowing an immigration policy that inflates the labor supply to the detriment of Black American labor?