Cord Jefferson Gets it Wrong on Immigration and Black America

James E. Johnson Jr. • Feb 19, 2010

Let’s just say up front I am not sure when Cord Jefferson’s writing is tongue-in-cheek or trying to be serious. Recently, he blogged ‘In Defense of John Edwards’ and talks about why progressives do not have the right to be as upset with Edward’s actions as conservatives, which I am sure was written with tongue firmly planted in cheek. His latest blog in The Root, ‘How Illegal Immigration Hurts Black America’ Jefferson liberally mixes fact and fiction to weave his tale.

Jefferson brilliantly ignores his own sources or twists them like pretzels to craft his fictional piece so that it has the feel of legitimacy.

1.  He conveniently ignores an entire paragraph in the referenced Washington Post article which explains why there is higher unemployment by young Blacks such as Dlonta Spriggs. “Traditionally the last hired and first fired, workers in Spriggs’s age group have taken the brunt of the difficult economy, with cost-conscious employers wiping out the very apprenticeship, internship and on-the-job-training programs that for generations gave young people a leg up in the work world or a second chance when they made mistakes. Moreover, this generation is being elbowed out of entry-level positions by older, more experienced job seekers on the unemployment rolls who willingly trade down just to put food on the table.”

2. He also links to a NY Times article, but fails to highlight the following: “Hispanic immigrants had a bigger drop in jobs from 2007 to 2008, although black workers continued to have the highest unemployment rate, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.” The article states the job loss by Hispanic foreign-born workers declined by 4.8% compared to 2.1% for Blacks.

3. His blog suggests that undocumented immigrants make more than African Americans when he states that the median household income of African Americans in 2007 was lower than undocumented immigrants’ median household income for the same year, $32,000 versus $37,000 by his account. But he fudges the data by taking Census Bureau figures for African Americans in 2006 and figures from the Pew Hispanic Center figures for unauthorized immigrant for 2007 (they note unauthorized immigrant income at $36,000). The Pew report also states undocumented immigrants make approximately $14,000 per year less than the median household income of U.S. born residents.

4. I became a bit confused when Jefferson threw in the fact of historical discrimination in hiring practices by employers towards Blacks. ‘Besides competing for work while simultaneously attempting to avoid drastically deflated paychecks and benefits, unemployed African- American job seekers must also frequently combat racial discrimination. In a 2006 research paper called “Discrimination in Low-Wage Labor Markets,” a team of Princeton sociologists discovered that, all else being equal, black applicants to low-wage jobs were 10 percent less likely than Latinos to receive positive responses from potential employers. Furthermore, employers were twice as likely to prefer white applicants to equally qualified blacks.’ Is he trying to say that the employers are all undocumented immigrants?

It is not surprising that Jefferson turns to Mark Krikorian (who thinks that Haitians were not colonized long enough before they overthrow their slave masters in their revolution for independence), of the John Tanton Network’s think-tank Center for Immigration Studies for help in blaming immigrants as what ails Black America. As some Center for Immigration Studies reports have also been called in to question for not telling the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. The Tanton Network has long tried to drive a wedge between Blacks and Latinos in an effort to advance its extremists views on immigration.

One would hope that Mr. Jefferson will write a serious blog that really discusses ways to help reduce the level of unemployment and underemployment among America’s Blacks. One in which he quits blaming those least responsible and starts talking about the real issues that are at the root of the problem: discriminatory hiring practices that lock Blacks out of jobs and advancement, poor educational systems that reduce employment opportunities, outsourcing of jobs historically held by Blacks to other countries, and labor laws that make it more difficult for workers to organize unions to help protect their wages and benefits.

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