Restrictionists Need Allies in the Black Community

By David North on December 19, 2020

Those of us who want to keep legal migration down to a dull roar, who seek to reduce the job-displacement of the foreign worker programs, and who want to make a major dent in illegal immigration should remember this date: February 29, 2020.

Yes, it was a leap year day, but it was also the critical day in the political life of Joe Biden. That morning, he was running for president for the third time in his life, he had never carried a state in the Democratic primaries, and he had come in fourth in the recent Iowa caucuses and fifth in the New Hampshire primary.

But late that evening he had won the South Carolina primary by a good margin, and was on his way to becoming the president of the United States.

And who caused that turn-around?

The Black voters of South Carolina, led by Rep. Jim Clyburn (D), a member of the House of Representatives leadership team. Joe Biden will never forget the Black support he got that day, and we should not either.

Black Americans thus have the president-elect's ear, and we should go all out to try to enlist them to the cause of moderate immigration.

What part of the electorate is hurt the most by too much immigration? Whose wages are depressed the most by illegal immigration and too loosely enforced foreign-worker programs? The answer is obvious to those of us who follow such matters, but it never has had that much impact on Black legislators.

All of this reminded me of a conversation of more than half a century ago, when I was assistant to the chairman of the Democratic National Committee, the legendary John Bailey. He, as the state boss in Connecticut, along with some of his peers (such as the older Richard Daley of Chicago and David Lawrence of Pittsburgh) had managed the nomination of John Kennedy for president a few years earlier.

At the end of the day the chairman liked to share a brandy and soda with one or more of his staffers. Earlier that day, the entire Congressional Black Caucus in the House (smaller than it is today) had joined the even smaller Congressional Hispanic Caucus to vote against some migration issue. I asked Bailey why the Black members had, seemingly, voted against the interests of their community.

"It's the politics of the chamber," he replied, pointing out the strong emotional ties of the two caucuses to each other. In other words, the Black Caucus had voted with their colleagues of color.

Now is the time for us to try to change that dynamic, to seek to sway the leaders of the Black community with the evidence of the adverse impact of too much migration, so that they can speak to the president on behalf of less migration.

The problem, of course, is that to the Black leadership we look too Euro-oriented; taking positions against too much migration may look like an anti-people-of-color activity. It is not, but we have some persuading to do. Maybe we should, for tactical reasons, give up our opposition to the immigration lottery that is the only part of the migration law that brings substantial numbers of Black people to this country.

Unfortunately for the restrictionists, the major Black player in the Biden administration is also the daughter of immigrants (from southern India and Jamaica), which will complicate matters for years to come. Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris (and Clyburn) both have F- immigration-reduction ratings, according to NumbersUSA.

Nevertheless, the facts are there: Black Americans suffer from too much migration more than all others, and we should strongly and creatively seek their support in the years ahead.