Stealing Work from American Hands

Note: An edited version of this article, titled "Obama Takes Jobs From Blacks And Gives Them To Immigrants", was published on the Investors Business Daily website,, on October 2, 2014.


In 2008, federal immigration enforcement officials descended on a poultry processing plant in South Carolina, arresting 11 plant managers that summer and more than 300 illegal workers in October. A subsequent audit revealed that, of the 825 employees at the plant, 777 had falsified paperwork.

After the parent company denied knowledge of the illegal hiring practices and agreed to obey immigration laws, the plant’s workforce underwent an amazing transformation. Prior to the raid, Latino workers comprised more than 80% of the plant’s employees. After the illegal workers were replaced by Americans looking for work, the plant’s demographic composition was more than 70% black.

In comments made to the Charlotte Observer, a local Raeford resident welcomed the shift:

“It's been good for the town, especially black minorities… There are lots of poor black men with not many opportunities.... In a small town like Raeford, there are not many jobs.”

His comments could be made by any of millions of black men and women with limited skills and education who are begging for work in a sluggish economy. While politicians may call our current economic state a “recovery” based on some arcane accounting definition, it doesn’t feel that way for far too many Americans. The black unemployment rate has remained stubbornly at double digits, and even during this apparent recovery, it is more than double that for whites (11.4 percent to 5.3 percent).

Even these numbers are deceptive, since the labor statistics have shown a record drop in the number of working age Americans who are actually in the workforce, and a record increase in the number of people taking part-time jobs, but who would rather work full-time.

In addition, one of the primary reasons for the drop in overall unemployment is because the government doesn’t count people who have stopped looking for work, and a recent survey found that nearly half of unemployed Americans have “completely given up” their job search.

Given all that, Americans in general have a not unreasonable expectation that their president would do everything he could within the powers granted him to create an environment in which jobs would flourish, and he certainly wouldn’t make any policy decisions that would take jobs away from American citizens who desperately need them.

Those expectations are heightened among black Americans, who believe that President Obama should have a more acute concern for their plight over others, not only because they are disproportionately affected, but because he looks like them.

Yet the president is determined to grant work permits to millions of illegal immigrants through executive action, and he is backed by an alliance of progressives, liberal Hispanics and businesses. At a press conference following the recent NATO summit in Wales, he stated:

“I intended to take action … and give people some path so they can start paying taxes, pay a fine and learn English, be able to not look over their shoulder, and be legal since they’ve been living here quite some time…I’ll be making an announcement soon, but I want to be very clear, in the absence of action by Congress, I’m going to do what I can do within the legal constraints of my office, because it’s the right thing to do for the country.”

If it was “the right thing to do for the country”, one could reasonably ask why he is waiting until after the November mid-term elections to take action. It is difficult not to be cynical about his intentions, simply because he is prioritizing the elections over doing what he believes to be the right thing. Even groups supporting amnesty for illegal immigrants are unhappy with him; in a stern letter signed by several such groups, he is taken to task for a lack of leadership:

“Being a leader requires making difficult and courageous decisions…It is your time to lead, Mr. President.”

Unemployed Americans, and part-time Americans looking for full-time work, could be forgiven for presuming his first obligation as the elected leader of our nation is to create an environment where every American who is willing and able to work can find a job. This is particularly true of black Americans who have limited work options due to their lack of education or job skills.

It is a logical fallacy to flood the job market with millions of people who are similarly lacking, pitting them against those who suffer the most when jobs are scarce. The fact they are not American citizens and are in this country illegally makes the action absurd.

People who point out this fallacy, however, are accused of bigotry against Hispanics, or attempting to drive a wedge between the black and brown progressive alliance, or lacking compassion for the downtrodden people who just want to work so they can care for their families.

Americans in general, however, and black Americans in particular, are ignoring the chaff hurled into the public square by the political, economic and cultural elites, and zeroing in on their target with a pointed question that every American must answer for themselves.

To whom is the federal government’s first allegiance and obligation?

Unemployed and underemployed black Americans could ask an even more targeted question.

Why does the first president who looks like us want to steal jobs from us?