Weeks before he will reportedly enact a massive executive amnesty for illegal immigrants, President Barack Obama was silent on immigration when he addressed the Congressional Black Caucus’ Phoenix Awards Dinner on Saturday evening in Washington, D.C.
Critics of amnesty, like U.S. Civil Rights Commissioner Peter Kirsanow, have warned that granting work permits to millions of more illegal immigrants would have a disparate impact on black workers trying to move up the economic ladder. The black unemployment rate is 11.2%, and a record number of blacks are not even in the workforce.
“Our work is not done when working Americans of all races have seen their wages and incomes stagnate, even as corporate profits soar; when African-American unemployment is still twice as high as white unemployment; when income inequality, on the rise for decades, continues to hold back hardworking communities, especially communities of color,” Obama told the audience. “We’ve got unfinished work. And we know what to do. That’s the worst part–we know what to do.”
Immigration reform was conspicuously absent from the to-do list on Saturday evening.
Obama mentioned investing in “infrastructure, and manufacturing, and research and development that creates new jobs.”
“We’ve got to keep rebuilding a middle class economy with ladders of opportunity, so that hard work pays off and you see higher wages and higher incomes, and fair pay for women doing the same work as men, and workplace flexibility for parents in case a child gets sick or a parent needs some help,” he concluded. “We’ve got to build more Promise Zones partnerships to support local revitalization of hard-hit communities. We’ve got to keep investing in early education. We want to bring preschool to every four-year-old in this country. And we want every child to have an excellent teacher.”
He talked about investing in community colleges and expanding pell grants to “make college more affordable.. because every child in America, no matter who she is, no matter where she’s born, no matter how much money her parents have, ought to be able to fulfill her God-given potential. That’s what we believe.”
But not one mention of needing comprehensive amnesty legislation.
Illegal immigrants who receive temporary amnesty and work permits would displace and compete with black workers for jobs, and perhaps that is why Obama, who has touted the economic benefits of immigration reform, was silent on amnesty. As Breitbart News has reported, only 13% of black Democrats complained in a recent Pew Research national poll that “Democrats are not pushing harder to allow illegal immigrants to remain in the country.” And a recent New York Times/CBS poll found that a “plurality of Americans (39%) would be less likely to support a candidate who supports a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants.”
Kirsanow, who has also urged the Congressional Black Caucus to not support amnesty legislation warned Obama earlier this year about “the disastrous effect of illegal immigration on the employment of all Americans, but particularly black Americans” and said that Obama’s “proposed executive order is unfair to people who are attempting to immigrate legally.”
“Any grant of legal status will serve as a magnet to prospective illegal immigrants and further depress employment opportunities and wages for African-Americans,” Kirsanow wrote Obama in August. “Given that the labor force participation rate is at an historic low, the unemployment rate is 6.2 percent, and there has been a precipitous decline in household wealth, the timing for such a grant of legal status could not be worse.”
Obama’s approval ratings on illegal immigration have hit all-time lows in numerous national polls. One poll in August found that “90% of likely voters feel that “U.S.- born workers and legal immigrants already here should get first preference for jobs.” And Obama told the audience that “we understand our work is not done until we get the kind of job creation that means everybody who wants work can a find job.”
Obama, who delayed is executive amnesty because Senate Democrats urged him to help them retain control of the Senate, asked black voters to turn out for the midterm elections.