The Congressional Black Caucus is going to join the push for more low-wage immigration, reversing its stance in 2006 and 2007, when it avoided the controversy.
“Immigration reform will be one of our top three priorities this year,” Ayofemi Kirby, the caucus’ communications director, told The Daily Caller on Wednesday.
The caucus is also trying to protect the “Diversity Visa” program from the GOP’s efforts to zero it, she said. Elimination of the program “would lower the number of [black] immigrants from countries who already have low number of immigrants … [in the United States], especially sub-Sahara and Africa” and Caribbean countries.
“That’s a huge issue for us,” she added, noting that the new policy will be detailed next week.
The caucus will also “be looking at [immigration’s] impact on low-income communities,” she said.
Immigration is a very contentious issue in African-American communities, partly because many African-Americans view immigrant Latinos as competition for low-skill jobs, apartments and government grants.
That economic pressure is acknowledged by African-American advocacy groups that are reluctant to criticize President Barack Obama and other progressive Democrats.
“The country’s back to pretty much where it was when this president started [in 2009]. … White people in this country are doing a bit better [and] black people are doing far worse,” Ben Jealous, the president of the NAACP, told NBC on Jan. 27.
However, the widespread and often bitter opposition to immigration is partially muted by many African-Americans’ empathy for Latinos, whose circumstances are often similar to those of blacks.
But African-American politicians and advocates are under intense pressure to keep good relations with influential Hispanic and Asian lobbies, as well as progressive groups, both of which strongly support an immigration rewrite and a conditional-amnesty.
On Capital Hill, the CBC’s leadership are part of the so-called Tricaucus of African-American, Hispanic and Asian caucuses.
But African-American politicians are also under pressure to cooperate with Hispanic lobbies, because some of their districts are increasingly Latino, rather than African-American.
The attempted 2006 and 2007 rewrites were backed by Reps. John Conyers and Sheila Jackson-Lee.
Conyer’s district in Michigan includes a growing Muslim population, and Jackson-Lee’s Texas district includes many Hispanics.