Many African-Americans Concerned About Obama’s Focus on Immigrant Rights

William Douglas and Franco Ordonez, McClatchy, February 11, 2013

No sooner did President Barack Obama and a group of senators separately outline proposals to revamp the nation’s immigration system than the phone lines on several African-American-oriented talk radio shows heated up with callers blasting the plans.

“Amnesty,” complained Frankie from Maryland recently on the nationally syndicated “Keeping it Real with Al Sharpton.”

A political payback to Hispanic voters that does little or nothing for African-Americans, reasoned Sam from Milwaukee on Wisconsin’s 1290 WMCS AM’s “Earl Ingram Show.”

“Our issues are not being highlighted and pushed, and things like gay marriage and (immigration) are being pushed to the forefront,” the caller said. “Hispanics are effectively organized. For us not to be organized and for us not to hold our leadership accountable is disheartening.”

Although the civil rights establishment, from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People to the Urban League and Sharpton, squarely back Obama’s desire to tackle immigration, the president’s call has reignited complaints within the African-American community that he is addressing the specific needs of almost all major voting blocs—Hispanics, women, gays—except for the African-Americans who gave him 93 percent of their vote.


“There (are) clearly different views in the African-American community around immigration,” Sharpton said on his radio show last month. “Some have said they’re (illegal immigrants) taking our jobs, they dilute our strength. Others have said we’ve got to have rights for everybody or we don’t have it for anybody, and this is not just a Latino issue because immigration laws cover the Caribbean, cover Africans, cover South Americans.”

Some angst over Obama addressing immigration and other issues so soon in his second term has boiled over into public criticism of the nation’s first African-American president by many African-Americans, from the grassroots to the political levels.


“The amount of blacks who are impacted by this [immigration] legislation is so small it’s infinitesimal,” talk show host Earl Ingram said. “Minuscule.”

A 2009 report by the Migration Policy Institute found that black immigrants from all regions of the world accounted for just 9 percent of the overall immigrant population in the United States.


Still, Ingram says many of his listeners see Obama’s attempt to push forward on immigration as a reminder of what the president hasn’t done to improve economic conditions for African-Americans.

“I would say a bulk of my listenership is anti-immigration,” he said. “You have to understand that in the community in which I live the percentage of African-Americans who are unemployed. They look at what’s going on with immigration as an affront to African-Americans who can’t pay their mortgages because many of the immigrants come here, they are hired at less than minimum wage.”


A 2009 study by George Borjas of Harvard University, Jeffrey Grogger of the University of Chicago and George Hanson of the University of California, San Diego, looked at 1960-2000 Census data and found that as immigrants disproportionately increased the supply of workers in a particular area, wages of African-American workers in that area fell, the employment rate declined and the incarceration rate rose.

“Our analysis suggests that a 10 percent immigration-induced increase in the supply of a particular skill group reduced the black wage by 2.5 percent, lowered the employment rate of black men by 5.9 percentage points, and increased the incarceration rate of blacks by 1.3 percentage points,” the professors wrote in the study.


Many civil rights leaders also believe that African-American concerns about the White House and Congress pushing for new immigration laws are overhyped. NAACP President Benjamin Jealous said, “Four out of five black voters are in support of immigration reform.”

But some polls tell a different story. A Pew Research poll released in January found that 56 percent of African-Americans feel there are “very strong” or “strong” conflicts between immigrants and people born in the United States. But perceptions may be improving—January’s figure is a drop from 61 percent in 2009.


The sensitivity of the immigration issue within the African-American community isn’t lost on African-American and Hispanic leaders who are striving for a unified front.

Sharpton and Janet Murguia, president of the National Council of La Raza, an immigration advocacy coalition, walked together to their seats at Obama’s second inauguration ceremony last month.

Murguia has made strengthening ties with the African-American community a key component of her leadership. She was the first Hispanic leader to give the keynote speech at the annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Unity Breakfast in Birmingham, Ala. She marched arm in arm with Sharpton, Jealous and Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., at last year’s Selma-to-Montgomery march, which focused on voter rights and anti-illegal immigrant laws like those in Alabama.


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  • a multiracial individual

    The demon-cratic party will no longer do any work in the Black community since the Black vote is locked in for all eternity.

  • Puggg

    except for the African-Americans who gave him 93 percent of their vote.

    That’s why. Obama can take black votes for granted. Hispanics, LGBTQLOLs, leftist women, etc. are more volatile voting blocs.

    • The__Bobster

      Yeah, right. Instead of moving 3% to the right, they might move 10% instead, still voting Democrat in landslide proportions.

    • David Ashton

      Blacks, immigrants, LGBTs, leftist “wimmin” singletons, and the disabled, all the specified block targets of the New Left or the Cultural Marxists that John Engelman claims never existed. Common hatred of “white racist hegemony”(!) is their only unifying force – will Obama use it?

  • lavender menace

    What is ironic is that the black civil rights establishment has solidly supported the Latino groups on this issue. Acknowledging the fact that Latinos are now the largest minority group in the US and that blacks are going to need their support.

  • The__Bobster

    The spoonie leaders are part of the unholy alliance and will sell out their own for money and power.

  • bigone4u

    I do not doubt the ability of black and Hispanic leaders to come together in that great rainbow coalition designed to pick whitey’s pocket one more time. Yep, the hip hop crowd and the salsa dancers will be gleefully coming up with new demands for “justice.” Justice is the code word for wealth transfers from whites to others you see. Liberty and justice for all never seems so hollow to this white guy than when I’m expected to pay for a party I’m not invited to.

  • Greg Thomas

    The black disdain for Whites has leaded them too foolishly to align with illegal invading
    mestizos who hate them. Only the so-called “black leaders” will gain
    from this, while their black base is sold down the river in lieu of the mestizo
    racist. Mission accomplished al shaprtongue.

    • SintiriNikos

      The blacks in Azusa and Hawaiian Gardens and Compton and other places where hispanics have been ethnically cleansing them will never be pro-immigration. It’s only the black elites and race hustlers and other blacks for whom hispanics are not (yet) a problem who gang up on whitey on this issue.

  • NYB

    “black immigrants from all regions of the world accounted for just 9 percent of the overall immigrant population in the United States”
    Assuming the legal rate of immigration is around one million per year, that’s almost 100,000 Africans annually, or enough to create a small city.

  • whiteyyyyy

    When the last time a white leader said “What’s good for Whites”

    • joesolargenius

      We need to encourage congress to form a White Caucus , also blacks in Los Angeles have marched in the stree demanding help from obama in getting their jobs back from the illegals but were ignored by the Dems overall !

  • odious liberal

    Stupid negroes once again chumped by one of their own. Obama laughs and panders to their stupidity.

    • alas

      Being chumped by one of their own seems like something that has been happening to whites for decades

  • ChanelWilliams

    I love that I fight to defend your freedom of speech. – A black female United States Air Force Veteran.

  • Tom Iron

    Blacks are “concerned?” The only thing they’ll ever be concerned about anything I think is if for some reason their welfare check doesn’t arrive on time.

    • George

      That’s the point. The entitlements pie is only so big. Adding 12 million more recipients means that the slices will be smaller.

  • washing town

    Well come now as their political leaders are reaping windfall bribes and kickbacks with their salaries and dont have to endure the reality of what Obama is doing which of course brings up the point that noone has entertained and this is of that the idiot in the WH is self serving on some sort of weird homo ego trip and is NOT for blacks as he makes out to be.

    Clearly blacks are being used as tools by Obama and in a catch 22 situation knowing they want a black in the WH but also knowing that they are being used like a french whore by this uppity mother of all media whores who is relaxed and laid back as they come is his lazyass non-chalant cavalier style that is so typical of the stereotype always portrayed in the black race. Nobody has ever had it made in the shade like Obama and he knows it and is enjoying every second of it in his be happy dont worry lifestyle where he went MIA during the killings of the Embassy officials in Benghazi undoubtedly having sex with his wife or smoking weed and didnt want to be bothered. Mr Cool as they call him and a 16.5 trillion debt? No sweat my man, we got those white mofos to pay for all my mess. We be cool.

  • Shattered

    They should be very concerned. Welfare spending under Obama has skyrocketed to over $1.03 trillion a year (mostly federal). Combined with Bush’s tax cuts, this has resulted in an enormous annual deficit driving the national debt up to ridiculous heights. Obama’s been “forced” to allow Chinese state owned companies to begin buying up U.S. energy, farming, banking, and construction companies so they will continue lending the Democrats the money they need to pass out in welfare to keep their voting block. If Obama is able to hand 11 million more illegal aliens free U.S. citizenship, 90% of them will sign up for welfare the next day. That would push it up to about 1.5$ trillion a year.

  • JohnEngelman

    Whenever someone used the word “reform” you should ask more questions. In an economy of persistent high unemployment and stagnant or declining wages it is legitimate to ask, “Will I benefit from that reform or not?”

    Easing restrictions on immigration benefits the immigrants and employers in general. It jeopardizes the economic interests of employees, the under employed, and the unemployed who already have the legal right to live in the United States.

    No amount of fancy words can change that simple reality.

    • David Ashton

      Now this is what we want to hear from you.
      There are social and cultural as well as simply economic drawbacks.

      • JohnEngelman

        I feel ambivalent about immigration. I like ambivalence. It is a good antibody against fanaticism.

        I like immigrants. I appreciate the cultural diversity they provide. I like ethnic restaurants, ethnic grocery stores, ethnic festivals, ethnic this and ethnic that.

        Nevertheless, I recognize that a rising population by any cause – including a high birth rate among white Gentiles of European origin – has an inflationary effect on prices and a deflationary effect on wages.

    • George

      John, I always read your comments with interest. Granted, I don’t always agree with them, but this is quite possibly your best post ever.

      Sane, simple and sensible.

      This article demonstrates the problems underneath the ‘big tent’ of the Democratic party. The Dems seek to appease the Mexicants(sic) by offering anmesty and social entitlements. Simultaneously, by giving legal status to millions of Mexicants, they threaten the economic opportunities of poor, poorly-skilled blacks. The blacks recognise that when times are bad and jobs are few, they are the first to be let go. Indeed, the black unemployment rate is an excellent bellweather indicator of the nation’s economic health…and it’s slightly higher than when Obama took office.

      Just as an aside, the Dems’ big tent also includes most gays & lesbians (certainly not this one, but there you go). Prop 8 passed in 2008 because of the overwhelming number of blacks & hispanics who turned out to vote for Obama.

      Blacks, Mexicants and the gay-rights lobby. The Democratic three-ring circus will be interesting. The sooner the squabbles start, the better for us.

      • JohnEngelman

        John, I always read your comments with interest. Granted, I don’t always agree with them, but this is quite possibly your best post ever…

        Blacks, Mexicants and the gay-rights lobby. The Democratic three-ring circus will
        be interesting. The sooner the squabbles start, the better for us.

        – George

        The sooner the squabbles start the better it will be for those who have benefited economically from the Republican ascendancy that began to develop in 1972. These have benefited from a high rate of immigration, and these are the people who are encouraging Republican “reform” in the direction of more immigration. I of course speak of the white plutocracy, which has thrived as the white working class has struggled.

        I do not agree with the Democrats on everything. I vote Democrat because I am not rich and because I do not benefit from Republican economic policies that benefit the rich at my expense. Even if I was rich I would rather be a limousine liberal living in Georgetown or a condominium overlooking Central Park than a country club Republican living in an upper class suburb of Dallas.

  • I don’t think blacks will fare off well in the Southwest in particular. Mexicans don’t get along with them and there has been violence on the streets of LA where the latinos are (like California) as a whole becoming the majority. White people have done, as a rule, tried to do some soul searching and tried to right the wrongs. The hispanics have no allegiance for any such cause as they shared none of the earlier America (now going, going, gone). It’s too bad a lot of blacks cannot see this fact. White people are NOT lynching them! I can see more and more blacks in the Southwest starting to get religion, aka some nationalism back.

  • Another variable is the population of legal, Black ex-prisoners, who cannot find work. No one will hire them and in many instances there is at least a 5 year wait for them to prove themselves responsible. How is that going to happen if they cannot get a job? These are LEGAL citizens of this country who would like to get their lives in order. I am not talking about hard core criminals. Black folks voted Obama back into office and he is ignoring you and concentrating on everyone else. He promised people, Hispanic and gays, he would work for them while his main motive was getting their votes. He didn’t have to do anything with African Americans but show up because he knew he had them in his pocket.

  • You’ve been had Black folks!