Illegal Immigration is hurting Black tradesmen and women

Apr 21 '19 | By Ray

It is estimated that 5% of the U.S. work force, and 14 - 25% of construction workers are illegal aliens. It's politically correct to call them undocumented workers, but let's get real, they are undocumented because they are here illegally.

The booming housing, and commercial construction industry over the past few years has been cited as one reason so many illegal immigrants are in construction , and you often  hear, "they are doing work that Americans don’t want to do." Bulls**t. If you are a black tradesman, you know that's not true.

The debate over immigration reform found new life in 2016, under a president who thoughtfully supports both increased border enforcement, and deportations for those that have abused the system and have become felons.

From amnesty on the left to expulsion on the right - from here on, it seems that anyone interested in speaking thoroughly on the matter can no longer do so without discussing its impact on black America.

Although many factories have gone oversea, and have taken millions of jobs with them, in the construction industry (and other industries with a strong illegal work force, such as building maintenance and landscaping), it is impossible to send the work to other countries, so instead of exporting the work, workers are imported. Or rather, we look the other way when they work construction projects.

This is subsequently overwhelming black tradesmen, and killing their growth opportunities, since black tradesmen are often in direct competition with illegal immigrants for construction jobs. “Black males are more likely to experience competition from illegal immigrants,” Commissioner Peter Kirsanow told The Daily Signal.

Kirsanow, an attorney in Cleveland and former member of the National Labor Relations Board, said illegal immigration is both a short-term and long-term problem for young black males.

“What happens is you eliminate the rungs on the ladder because a sizable number of black men don’t have access to entry-level jobs,” Kirsanow said. “It is not just the competition and the unemployment of blacks. It also depresses the wage levels.”

As former Mexican President Vicente Fox infamously declaring in 2006 that Mexican immigrants perform the jobs that “not even blacks want to do.”

Despite the former Mexican President assertion, illegal immigrants worked heavily in the construction industry, an industry that employed hundreds of thousands of blacks in 2018.

With some studies showing that black male unemployment is being under reported, and is hovering around a staggering 17.6 percent, it seems even less likely that immigrants are filling only those jobs that black Americans don’t want to do. Just ask Delonta Spriggs, a 24-year-old black man profiled in a Washington Post piece on joblessness, who pleaded, “Give me a chance to show that I can work. Just give me a chance.”

Pew Research Center estimates that about 11.3 million people are currently living in the U.S. without authorization. More than half come from Mexico, and about 15 percent come from other parts of Latin America. These workers are doing work that U.S. citizens are willing and able to do. In the construction industry, they are hired under the table by unethical contractors who can charge much less for their work because they are undocumented, and their labor costs are much lower. 

Contractors who follow the law, who document all workers, pay all payroll taxes and worker's compensation insurance, are basically being penalized for following the law.

In addition illegals are earning more than African-Americans. African Americans were paid a median household income of $36,000 in 2018. In the same year, the median household income for illegal immigrants was $45,000. Besides competing for work while simultaneously attempting to avoid drastically deflated paychecks and benefits, unemployed African-American tradesmen must also frequently combat racial discrimination, and high levels ethnic nepotism in the building trades.  

Texas Report

According to an alarming report by the University of Texas, half of the construction workers in Texas are undocumented. In a state were Black/African-American unemployment has consistently been nearly double that of white & Hispanic the report estimated that as many as 400,000 undocumented immigrants work in the Texas construction industry statewide. 

Illegal immigrants are not only willing to accept lower pay than their African-American workers, but they are also less likely to receive safety training according to the report. The report showed that 73% of illegal immigrant workers reported they had not received basic safety training.

Texas black tradesmen have had it worst off as tradesmen of other states, due to more than half of the state’s construction industry being made up of illegal aliens. This claim also acknowledges wage fluctuations over the years. Evidence shows Texas black workers in general have a higher unemployment rate than fellow Texans and also being the lone group with the lowest overall wages.

Reports provided by the Economic Policy Institute indicate that median hourly wages of Texas whites and Hispanics increased 8 and 2.9 percent, respectively, from 2000 to 2014 while median hourly wages of black Texans decreased 0.8 percent. When asked why black unemployment in Texas appeared to be running higher than white and Hispanic unemployment and wages much lower, Josh Bivens, director of research and policy, said this may be because of discrimination in the labor market, according to politifacts.

Are trade unions apart of the problem?

Construction unions over the pass few decades have focused on keeping their members happy and employed, and have fought to keep lucrative work building offices and highways instead of pouring money into recruiting masses of new workers, such as black tradesmen & women. Nonunion shops on the other hand, also looked over black workers, and instead made aggressive inroads into home building, hiring thousands of illegal aliens who in most cases no experience at all. The result: Today slightly more than 1 in 10 construction workers are in a union, compared with 4 in 10 in the 1970s.

“What happened was, slowly, one contractor became nonunion … and picked up a couple workers, and somebody told him about their Mexican friends, and that was a model people adopted,” said Hart Keeble, the business manager of the Reinforcing Ironworkers local 416, based in Southern California, during an L.A. Times interview.

In fact, for more than 100 years, building trades unions refused to hire black tradesmen & women. The Ironworkers local, like many building trades unions, used to be an “old boys club,” Keeble said, where the unspoken rule was to only let in people related to current union members.

Hire Black Youth as Apprentice!

In the summer of 2005, when Las Vegas was going through a construction boom, Keeble advertised in local papers to fill 150 union apprenticeships over the course of a few months. After not being able to find the workers he wanted, instead of advertising in an African-American newspaper or publication he decided to advertise in a Spanish-language newspaper, as a result he found all the workers he needed.

The Ironworkers union, whose members install the steel bars and cables that form the skeleton of a building, used to take in 300 apprentices from high schools across California every summer. But in the summer of 2016 they managed to only pull in 80. In most cases at-risk youth from heavily populated African-American communities are not aware of these opportunities, nor are they solicited to in any form.

According to Tom Brown, head of a San Diego based engineering firm, 90% of his employees are “good old redneck Americans” and the rest are immigrants.

Part of the reason black youth are also not running into the trades is that employers aren’t eager to raise pay all that much. Even as home building shot up from 2011 to 2018, hourly wages for construction workers rose slower than average private-sector pay, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data, this can be directly attributed to illegal immigrants driving down wages by excepting less pay for construction work.

A U.S. Civil Rights Commission study in 2010 determined immigration had a disproportionate impact on black Americans, especially those working in entry level positions, such as construction apprentice.

“About six in 10 adult black males have a high school diploma or less, and black men are disproportionately employed in the low-skilled labor market, where they are more likely to be in labor competition with immigrants,” the commission report says.

The report continues:

“Illegal immigration to the United States in recent decades has tended to depress both wages and employment rates for low-skilled American citizens, a disproportionate number of whom are black men. Expert economic opinions concerning the negative effects range from modest to significant. Those panelists that found modest effects overall nonetheless found significant effects in industry sectors such as meatpacking and construction.”

Our Conclusion

“Some people are putting party preference over the needs of their constituents,” say Commissioner Peter Kirsanow. “The [Congressional Black Caucus] styles themselves as protecting and enhancing the interest of black Americans. The problem is that black workers are being ignored. So, there is another agenda at work.” Black Tradesmen U.S. agrees, whenever we speak on this issue of the lack of black faces in the trades, and union apprenticeships, most politicians and union officials just ignore the issue and kick the can, while recruiting tons of illegals & DACA recipient’s instead of black tradesmen & women.

This type of discussion has proved difficult in the past, however. “Many of the black scholars dance around this hard issue,” says Carol Swain, professor of law at Vanderbilt University and author of Debating Immigration. “They do their research in such a way that it doesn’t address how immigration affects blacks. There’s a lot of pressure to say the politically correct thing - that immigrants aren’t hurting African Americans. Well, that’s not true.”


No comments
You need to sign in to comment

Related Articles