Roy Beck's Picture


  by  Roy Beck

Viewers of cable news networks the first of this week will have a number of opportunities to hear the uniquely commanding voice of the late civil rights icon Barbara Jordan pronounce that there is "no national interest in continuing to import lesser skilled and unskilled workers to compete in the most vulnerable parts of our labor force."

NumbersUSA is proud to continue to provide the public with that insight through our TV advertising on Martin Luther King Day.

At the end of the ad, viewers are asked to check this website for the answer to what immigration number is good for American workers.

My answer is that a number well below 100,000 a year would be best for the employment and wage prospects for vulnerable American workers. I laid out my case for that in my book published by W.W. Norton & Co. the same year that Congress first refused to pass Barbara Jordan's recommendations.

However, there are a number of reasons why it would be very difficult to reduce immigration from more than 1 million a year to much below 500,000 at this time. That's why NumbersUSA fought hard this last year to mobilize citizens to pass Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton's RAISE Act and Virginia Rep. Bob Goodlatte's legislation that would have moved the number down close to the 500,000 mark. Both bills would have reduced the importation of lower-skilled workers considerably by ending chain migration of extended family and the visa lottery.

"This American Life" on NPR recently noted that NumbersUSA has done a lot to keep the profile of Barbara Jordan in the public eye over the decades. Jordan's view of immigration is deeply troubling to the forces on both the left and the right who have their own special reasons to advocate high immigration with no regard for the types of Americans who may be hurt by the labor importation.

Here is our national press release about our ad:




One of Three Working-Age Black Americans Still Not Working; 23% of African Americans Live in Poverty

Washington, D.C. -- January 18, 2019 -- To commemorate Martin Luther King Day, NumbersUSA will air it's famous Barbara Jordan TV commercial on national cable TV networks. The ad includes a video of the late civil rights icon declaring that immigration policy should not harm the economic opportunities of struggling Americans.

Roy Beck, President of NumbersUSA, commented:

Reverend Martin Luther King's dream for America was based heavily on economic opportunity. There have been great advancements. But despite one of the strongest labor markets in our country's history, major pockets of Americans have been left behind.

"Low official unemployment rates cannot be allowed to disguise the fact that unacceptably high percentages of lower-educated Americans and of Hispanic and Black Americans continue to live in or near poverty.

"Yet, our federal government continues to give lifetime work permits to more than one million new immigrants each year. These immigrants disproportionately compete with Americans who are already in the worst economic shape.

"Congress refuses to change immigration policy so that it serves the interests of these fellow Americans. Few aspects of the American dream are possible without a job that pays a decent wage.

"Our immigration policy weakens wages and provides incentives for employers to avoid recruiting poor Americans back into the labor market."

NumbersUSA's ad focuses on the lack of employment among African Americans. Their official unemployment rate is around 50% higher than the national average. That rate counts only those who are actively looking for work. Combining "discouraged" workers and those who have left the labor force entirely, federal labor data reveals that one in three working-age Black Americans does not currently have a job.

Beck added:

Low labor force participation and low wages explain the unacceptable 23% poverty rate for Black Americans."Last year, Congress had a chance to address this problem but once again voted down Barbara Jordan's recommendations. It appears that this new Congress is even less interested in dealing with the labor impacts of immigration on America's most vulnerable citizens. But it is worth taking the time on this Martin Luther King Day to remind Congress of what Barbara Jordan said about how immigration policy should make it easier, not harder, for economically struggling Americans."

Law professor and former congresswoman Barbara Jordan was appointed chair of the U.S. Commission on Immigration Reform in 1993 by President Bill Clinton. Her Commission recommended stopping illegal immigration and bringing legal immigration down to a moderate level.

Jordan was keenly aware of the impact mass immigration was having on minority communities. She said:

The Commission is particularly concerned about the impact of immigration on the most disadvantaged within our already resident society -- inner city youth, racial and ethnic minorities, and recent immigrants who have not yet adjusted to life in the U.S."

Beck concluded:

Barbara Jordan was one of the key inspirations for founding NumbersUSA in 1996. We have long educated the public about the necessity of her recommendations and also about the tone in which they should be advocated. She insisted that immigrants and those who wish to immigrate should not be blamed for problems that might arise from mass immigration and that they should be treated with respect."In that vein, NumbersUSA has always advised our members and the public that if they are angry about the effects of mass immigration, their anger should be directed at elected officials who set the policies and not at immigrants themselves."

Updated: Fri, Feb 1st 2019 @ 7:00pm EST

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