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By August Gribbin, Insight on News, September 20, 1999


“Immigration policy has been captured by special interests who peddle the notion that immigration is an unmitigated benefit to the nation and that it is costless,” says Vernon M. Briggs Jr., a professor at Cornell University.  “Nothing could be further from the truth.”  According to Briggs, the national unemployment rate in 1997 was 4.9 percent; for the foreign-born, it was 7.4 percent; for the foreign-born without a high school education, it was 9.8 percent; and for native-born unskilled workers, it was 14.5 percent.  Thus, concludes Briggs, there is no shortage of unskilled workers in the nation and no need to import them.  What’s more, importing the unskilled has the greatest impact on the least skilled segment of the labor force “that is already having the greatest difficult finding employment.”

Blacks are hit hardest, reports Frank L. Morris Sr., retired dean of Morgan State University’s graduate school.  Competition with immigrants “has been devastating for African-Americans in high-immigration states,” particularly among farm workers, janitors, security guards, taxi drivers, child-care workers and those employed in construction, restaurant and hotel jobs, Morris said during congressional testimony.  Furthermore, “Many African-American citizens [in places where there is high immigration] are living in dire straits.  I consistently confront the myth that immigrants take jobs that other Americans such as African-Americans do not want.  …African-American workers and especially young urban workers were and are being denied opportunities in construction that were given to immigrant construction workers.”