How Illegal Immigration Hurts Black America

With national unemployment hovering around 10 percent and black male unemployment at a staggering 17.6 percent, it's just not true that undocumented workers are doing the jobs that we won't do.

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In October 2008, amidst claims that one of its subsidiaries was knowingly hiring illegal immigrants, North Carolina poultry producer House of Raeford Farms initiated a systematic conversion of its workforce.

Following a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement raid that nabbed 300 undocumented workers at a Columbia Farms processing plant in Columbia, S.C., a spooked House of Raeford quietly began replacing immigrants with native-born labor at all of its plants. Less than a year later, House of Raeford’s flagship production line in Raeford, N.C., had been transformed, going from more than 80 percent Latino to 70 percent African-American, according to a report by the Charlotte Observer.

 

 


Under
President George W. Bush, showy workplace raids like the one that befell Raeford were standard—if widely despised—fare. And though the Obama administration has committed itself to dialing down the practice, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano has occasionally found herself the bearer of bad news to immigration activists who expected the raids to end entirely under her watch.

For the most part, the workplace crackdowns themselves are unremarkable—gaudy, ad hoc things that mitigate America’s immigration problem the way a water balloon might a forest fire. Increasingly however, their immediate aftermaths—in which dozens of eager African-American job applicants line up to fill vacancies—call into question a familiar refrain from the nation’s more vocal immigration proponents: Illegal immigrants do work American citizens won’t. Even former Mexican President Vicente Fox fell victim to the hype, infamously declaring in 2006 that Mexican immigrants perform the jobs that “not even blacks want to do.”

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