Mine owners brought in strikebreakers, men who were so desperate for work that they would risk their lives to reach the job and risk them again to do the work. Most of the strikebreakers were black.
Mine owners, who to that point had shown little sympathy for the roughly 45 percent of their workforce who were African-American, overnight became concerned for the safety of the black strikebreakers who, as one of the owners put it, only wanted a job.
U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Huntsville, has now become a convert for the cause of unemployed African-Americans. Speaking in opposition to the proposed amnesty program that is part of the immigration reform package Congress is considering, Brooks stated that making it easy for illegal immigrants to become U.S. citizens “undermines millions of African-Americans worker’s incomes and job searches by flooding the American market with cheap labor.”
This assumption is also widely held by members of the African-American Leadership Council, though there is little concrete evidence to support the contention that jobs held by the estimated 7.8 million undocumented workers would be or could be snatched up by unemployed blacks if those jobs became available.
The inner city is where African-American unemployment is concentrated, and the jobs illegal immigrants hold are overwhelming agricultural and in agricultural processing, not inner-city occupations. Meanwhile, statistics show that unemployed blacks who live in agricultural areas are not attracted to the low pay and backbreaking labor that is available. Even if they were, employers often prefer undocumented workers who have little choice but to accept the pay and conditions.
But even if the jobs were where unemployed blacks (or whites, for that matter) happened to be, there is much evidence, thanks to reports from Factcheck.org, that illegal immigrants create as many jobs as they hold, and in fact they may even create the job that employs them.
So once again we find a politician taking a stand for a group that does need help, not because what he advocates will help them, but because he hopes they will support what he advocates.
Just like the mine owners of old who expressed concern for black strikebreakers when their main concern was breaking the strike, Rep. Brooks is obscuring his primary purpose. If he really wanted to help ease black unemployment, a comprehensive jobs bill would be a better solution.