Credits: Reuters/Overpass for America

Credits: Reuters/Overpass for America

Yesterday the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit shut down President Obama’s plan to protect up to 5 million undocumented immigrants from deportation, which means immigration reform will continue to be a hot button issue through next year and more than likely the next president’s entire administration.

According to the Washington Post, “There are an estimated 11 million immigrants living in the country illegally.” If you’re a conservative, it’s likely you want every last one of them gone. But how do you, as an African-American, feel about illegal immigrants, particularly in lieu of allegations that their presence actually inhibits our economic growth in the country?

In 2010, Cord Jefferson wrote an article for the Root titled “How Illegal Immigration Hurts Black America” and when he was asked to explain his stance in a follow-up appearance on NPR he stated:

I think that, unfortunately, African-Americans are disproportionately low skilled. And African-Americans are disproportionately low educated. And those are the jobs that illegal immigrants are most often taking. And so I think that African-Americans who are low skilled and low educated who are out looking for employment in this sort of economy, they are competing with illegal immigrants of which there are millions. And so, I think that that’s why they’re disproportionately affected by this.

Asked to clarify whether his gripe is solely with illegal immigration or legal immigration as well, Jefferson explained:

“I think that in my estimation and in my reporting, I think that I was sort of looking at illegal immigration only. And I think that the reason that I was is because illegal immigrants, rather, far more than their legal counterparts are highly exploitable. And I think that that is one of the main reasons that you find these employers who are looking for cheap labor, who are unwilling to hire African-Americans or low-skilled Americans of all races who are unwilling to hire them instead of an illegal immigrant.”

Though we may be five years removed from the time when Jefferson made these claims, the climate which he spoke to hasn’t changed much, which begs the question of whether the stance of the black community has. So often immigration reform is seen as solely a conservative vs liberal debate that only affects the Latino community. Little regard is given to other immigrants of color, simply because their presence is far less than that of Hispanic immigrants, but it’s also taboo for American people of color who believe illegal aliens are robbing them of employment opportunities to voice that opinion for fear of seeming anti-Latino and right-winged. In fact, such claims often dredge up the retort that illegal immigrants work jobs most African-Americans don’t want anyway or feel are beneath them, and considering the wage these immigrants often have to settle for, the conclusion is typically that the only ones benefiting from immigration are companies employing Hispanics illegally.

But has even the marginally better way of life immigrants have achieved crossing the border into the U.S. disproportionately crippled the African-American labor force or would we still be in the same boat regardless?

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