While most Democrats have united behind the Gang of Eight’s immigration proposal, a group of black pastors and leaders is trying to weaken support for the proposal in one key constituency, arguing that new Latino citizens would deprive black workers of jobs.
“The Senate Gang of Eight’s immigration bill is not only impractical, but immoral,” Frank Morris, former executive director of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, said in a statement on the bill. “Increasing immigration levels through amnesty and new visa programs, particularly at the low-skilled level, will flood labor markets with millions more people, leading to higher unemployment, more poverty, and a lower standard of living for many in the black community.”
Morris sits on the board of the Center for Immigration Studies, which argues “that current, high levels of immigration are making it harder to achieve such important national objectives as better public schools, a cleaner environment, homeland security, and a living wage for every native-born and immigrant worker.” He issued his statement while announcing a joint press conference opposing the bill that will feature other black leaders such as Dr. William Owens, founder of the Coalition of African American Pastors.
It remains to be seen if they can actually influence the debate. Owens’ organization opposed President Obama’s re-election given his support for gay marriage, but that failed to diminish the president’s support among black voters. On the other hand, the same black pastors who failed to defeat Obama succeeded in passing a constitutional amendment in North Carolina that defined marriage as a union of one man and one woman, so perhaps it’s easier for conservative black leaders to mobilize their communities on particular issues rather than against Obama.