“Not one of that 61 was selected – not one,” Hastings told the African-American newspaper publishers at a Fort Lauderdale, Fla., conference.
Obama administration officials reject assertions that the president is race-adverse. Obama has consistently said he takes a “rising tide lifts all boats” approach to governing and that his policies benefit all Americans, not just one group.
“I think comprehensive immigration reform is not about a specific community, it’s about a problem that we need to address as a whole,” White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said last week.
But some African-Americans view Obama’s immigration drive as an overture to Hispanics who helped power his re-election in November with 71 percent of their vote.
“The amount of blacks who are impacted by this legislation is so small it’s infinitesimal,” talk show host Earl Ingram said. “Minuscule.”
A 2009 report by the Migration Policy Institute found that black immigrants from all regions of the world accounted for just 9 percent of the overall immigrant population in the United States.
However, a 2011 report by the same group discovered that blacks from Africa, though just 3 percent of the U.S. foreign-born population, are among the fastest-growing immigrant groups in this country.
From 1980 to 2009, the number of African blacks in the United States has swelled from 64,000 to 1.1 million, according to the 2011 report.
If that growth trend continues, Africa will supplant the Caribbean as the major source region for the U.S. black immigrant population by 2020, the Migration Policy Institute study concludes.
Still, Ingram says many of his listeners see Obama’s attempt to push forward on immigration as a reminder of what the president hasn’t done to improve economic conditions for African-Americans.
“I would say a bulk of my listenership is anti-immigration,” he said. “You have to understand that in the community in which I live the percentage of African-Americans who are unemployed. They look at what’s going on with immigration as an affront to African-Americans who can’t pay their mortgages because many of the immigrants come here, they are hired at less than minimum wage.”
The African-American unemployment rate is at 13.8 percent, according to recently released government figures, nearly twice the 7 percent jobless rate for whites. The nation’s overall unemployment rate is 7.9 percent. For Hispanics, the rate is 9.7 percent.
A 2009 study by George Borjas of Harvard University, Jeffrey Grogger of the University of Chicago and George Hanson of the University of California, San Diego, looked at 1960-2000 Census data and found that as immigrants disproportionately increased the supply of workers in a particular area, wages of African-American workers in that area fell, the employment rate declined and the incarceration rate rose.
“Our analysis suggests that a 10 percent immigration-induced increase in the supply of a particular skill group reduced the black wage by 2.5 percent, lowered the employment rate of black men by 5.9 percentage points, and increased the incarceration rate of blacks by 1.3 percentage points,” the professors wrote in the study.
Todd Shaw, a political science and African-American studies professor at the University of South Carolina, believes “the concern that African Americans are hostile to immigrant workers is a bit overplayed.”