The Congressional Black Caucus doesn't share Dr. Martin Luther King's dream for African-Americans. Fifty-one years ago, King outlined his hopes: that black as well and white men would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. King despaired that blacks were exiled in their own American land and too often denied advancement opportunities.
The CBC has a different objective that would be extremely disappointing to Dr. King.. One of the most powerful congressional caucuses has thrown its imposing weight behind comprehensive immigration reform, legislation that would expand the labor pool and thereby hurt unemployed black and Hispanic Americans more than any other demographic.
The CBC's website is a study in contradictions. On its homepage, CBC Chair Marcia L. Fudge (D-OH) wrote that its 41-year old mission has been to eliminate the ongoing social and economic injustices that blacks have suffered.
Fudge, writing on the CBC's behalf, also stated unequivocally that it "unanimously supports" reform and "in particular," amnesty for millions of illegal aliens living in the U.S. today. Fudge's message seems clear: unemployed illegal immigrants who are black, Hispanic or Asian have the CBC's support. But native-born black, Hispanic or Asian-Americans do not.
America's leaders have lost sight of King's dream. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, about 20 percent of African-Americans are unemployed or underemployed; 17 percent of Hispanic-Americans can't find work. Americans of all races haven't seen a real wage increase in 40 years.
King would see such widespread unemployment as a travesty of justice. As King said in one of his last sermons, "If a man doesn't have a job or an income, he has neither life nor liberty nor the possibility for the pursuit of happiness. He merely exists."
Some influential blacks have made the connection between more immigration and fewer American jobs. Frank L. Morris, the former Congressional Black Caucus Forum executive director, appealed to the CBC and President Obama to reduce immigration and enforce existing laws rather than compound the damage that ill-conceived and unenforced immigration policies have inflicted on Americans in general and black and Hispanics in particular.
Willard Fair, Urban League of Greater Miami president, offered this example of how cheap immigrant labor hurts blacks. Asked Fair: "If there's a young black man who's good with his hands and wants to become a carpenter which is more likely to help him achieve that goal--amnesty and more immigration, or enforcement and less immigration?"
If the CBC doesn't understand the consequences to unemployed Americans of a huge amnesty, Coretta Scott King does. In 1991, five years after the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act passed, Senator Orrin Hatch introduced legislation that would repeal employer sanctions against those who hired aliens. The sanctions were a primary reason the legislation passed.
King interceded. She wrote to Hatch to remind him of "devastating consequences" removing sanctions would have on unemployed and semi-skilled workers, the majority of whom are African-American and Hispanic.
The immigration bill Congress is considering would authorize 11 million illegal immigrants to work and add more than another 20 million work-authorized legal immigrants within the first decade. King would take a dim view of the congressional push for more immigration. Because King understood that the greatest social injustice is not having a job, he would urge Congress to promote less immigration which would tighten labor markets and, for black and Hispanic Americans, in particular, create higher wages.