Hello NAACP! Is Anybody Home? – Joseph C. Phillips

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People has finally released a statement concerning the issue of illegal immigration. It is a rather anemic outline of certain principles the organization feels should guide immigration policy. These principles include “Support of protections for agricultural workers and a path to legal permanent residency and citizenship for college age students;” “Opposition to any efforts to require, encourage or deputize state or local police to enforce federal immigration laws;” and “Opposition to mandatory detention of undocumented immigrants without individualized consideration of whether detention is necessary.” The issue of immigration is the political equivalent of the Gordian knot, an intricate interweaving of security concerns, economics, social policy and race. There are approximately 11.5 million illegal immigrants in this country — 81% of them from Mexico and Latin America. The cost to the federal government is more than 10 billion dollars annually. The cost to local economies is significant as well. Illegal immigrants strain municipal resources for schools, healthcare and emergency services. At the same time, 31% of illegals are part of mixed families (one or more family members are American citizens) and they make up 5% of the civilian labor force. Clearly, this is an issue that suggests a bit more nuance than walls and mass deportation. But the NAACP’s position is not nuanced. It lacks substance and doesn’t nearly address the concerns of Black workers, who are impacted directly by the prevalence of black market labor. The plain math is that the abundance of illegal labor puts downward pressure on wages and in the words of Carol Swain, professor of political science and law at Vanderbilt University “diminishes opportunity for low-skilled American workers who compete in the same sectors as the illegal immigrants.” For those in the back of the room that means young Black men.