Frank Morris, a CIS board member who will be one of the featured speakers at Monday's March for Jobs in downtown Washington, has sharply criticized Michigan Democratic Rep. John Conyers's stance on immigration. Morris charges that Conyers, whose immigration positions are especially significant because he is ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee, is willfully "blind" to immigration's negative effects on his constituents.
Morris, who made the comments in an interview posted at the CIS website (view the video on the right), has had a long and distinguished career. He has served as a senior Foreign Service officer, executive director of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, president of the Council of Historically Black Graduate Schools, and member of the NAACP National Educational Advisory Board.
Here is an excerpt of his criticism of Conyers:
Congressman Conyers, I think, is blind to the fact that his own constituents, especially his African-American constituents, are suffering from unfair competition with immigrants. Labor is not exempt from the law of supply and demand. And what Congressman Conyers is doing is really placing his weight not in support of his constituents. ... There is a political correctness on the so-called progressive side that doesn't want to acknowledge that they have been on the side of immigrants with the assumption that it is immigrants who are really the most vulnerable when in reality they have bought up the argument that any American, including less-skilled, less-educated Americans are not successful because something is wrong with them. The Conyers of the world, and it's sad to say on this issue, ignore the structural barriers that have been tremendous impediments and are becoming increasingly greater impediments to our own less-skilled and less-educated American workers.
Morris also made these observations:
One of the sad and tragic facts is that nobody really speaks for many of the grassroots poor, less educated, working-class Americans.... [I]t became clear that no matter what the arguments are, that less-skilled, less-educated American workers are those most hurt by immigration. These are the ones that no one really speaks for. No one really identifies for these folks. And for African-American workers it goes way back. And this is another one of the sad and tragic facts. It's that Americans have always given and proffered benefits to immigrants over some of our own, especially our African Americans. We have done studies that go all the way back to the 1890s. We have Frederick Douglass, W.E.B. Du Bois, Booker T. Washington, lamenting this fact. The tragedy is that young people, when they see negative differentials between the African-American community and the rest, have no idea that these have been strongly influenced by policy.