Monday, August 14, 2017
P.R. Lockhart for Mother Jones analyzes how President Trump has tapped into time worn allegations of how immigrants have injured African American workers. Among others, labor economist Vernon Briggs has championed such arguments for many years.
Announcing his support for the RAISE Act, which would drastically reduce legal immigration into the United States, President Trump appealed to two segments of the electorate. African Americans and Latinos. He claimed that they have suffered economically from competition from immigrant workers and would benefit from reduced immigration.
“Among those who have been hit hardest [by current levels of immigration] in recent years are immigrants and, very importantly, minority workers competing for jobs against brand-new arrivals,” Trump said, joined by Sens. David Perdue (R-Ga.) and Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), the sponsors of the RAISE Act. The claim was repeated later that day by White House senior policy adviser Stephen Miller, who said that legal and illegal immigration have “had a deleterious impact on African American employment in general and certainly African American males.”
Trump first raised the issue on the campaign trail, incorporating it into his appeal to African American voters. “Illegal immigration violates the civil rights of African Americans,” he said in Charlotte last October. “No group has been more economically harmed by decades of illegal immigration than low-income African American workers.” A similar argument appeared earlier this year in a draft executive order aimed at limiting undocumented immigration and preventing visa overstays.