In our Pro vs Con series, we ask two experts to weigh in on a hot button topic. This week, we tackle the immigration debate. Stacey Swimp is a spokesperson for Project 21 and president of the Frederick Douglass Foundation of Michigan.
Swimp: States’ rights are “not granted by the U.S. Constitution to the federal government and not forbidden to the states by the Constitution.” Alabama, South Carolina, Arizona and states that are stepping up to the plate to enact state immigration policies are exercising the authority given to the states, by the U.S. Constitution, to “administer equal protection under the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.” These laws are not “tough”, as liberals suggest, nor are they forbidden by the Constitution. These state laws are necessary to ensure the safety and general well being of American citizens where the federal government has failed to do so. Moreover, they are in accordance with the responsibility given to government by the Constitution to “establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, and promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity.” Illegal aliens have created public health crisis (i.e., reappearance of polio, etc.), public safety crisis (30% of all federal prisoners are illegal aliens) and drained our public dollars. For example, illegal aliens cost taxpayers $28.795 billion annually at the federal level, overshadowed by outlays of $84.211 billion at the state and local level. Education for the children of illegal aliens constitutes the single largest cost to taxpayers, at an annual price tag of nearly $52 billion. (See The Fiscal Burden of Illegal Immigration on United States Taxpayers.”) The states have taken credible steps to address the aforementioned crisis.
Loop21: What is your opinion regarding the U.S. Justice Department bringing suit against states with immigration laws that aren’t in line with federal legislation?
Swimp: To say that state immigration laws are not in line with federal legislation is not only inaccurate, but is dis-information. It should be noted that, in De Canas v. Bica (1976), the Supreme Court declared that federal immigration laws did not prohibit the states from enforcing the policies embodied by those federal immigration laws. The U.S. Justice Department has overstepped its boundaries and violated the rule of law in interfering with the states enforcement of federal immigration laws.
Loop21: How can enacting more aggressive immigration laws negatively affect our communities?
Swimp: The laws that the states are attempting to enact and enforce will have no negative impact on our communities. Quite the opposite is true.
Loop21: How can enacting more aggressive immigration laws positively affect our communities?
Swimp: Dr. Carolyn Swain appropriately addressed this issue in her book of essays Debating Immigration. The fact is that Black Americans are losing more jobs to illegal immigrants than any other racial or ethnic group in the nation. Dr. Swain added that lax or non-existent immigration rules help businesses get away with hiring illegal immigrants instead of legal workers (i.e., black workers). The Pew Hispanic Center has found that high unemployment rates among black Americans are partially attributed to the large number of low-skilled immigrants. Ironically, black officials (i.e., Congressional Black Caucus) and some so called black leaders (i.e., Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton) who are trusted by many low income Black workers to represent them in the political debate on immigration are being “sold out” by those whom they trusted to represent their interests. These sellouts are misrepresenting “civil rights,” falsely comparing the criminality of illegal aliens to the struggle for equality that legal Black citizens have fought for righteously. Hence, many blacks are silent, assuming illegal aliens are in the same position we have been in.
Loop21: What is your opinion of the H-2A guest worker program?
Swimp: I agree with the finding of numerous experts on immigration that U.S policy should actively discourage the dependence of any industry on foreign workers. Research has demonstrated that dependence on a foreign agricultural labor force is problematic for the U.S. because of the seasonal nature of the work, which leads to high un- and under-employment. It also results in the inefficient use of labor. Efficient enforcement of immigration and labor laws should be the focus at this time, to promote the best interest of American workers, particularly Black American workers, who are the most vulnerable in the workforce. Therefore, the guest worker program, with our current illegal alien crisis, may be counterproductive to U.S. workers.
Loop21: Given our history in this country, do African Americans have a special duty to fight for the civil rights of immigrants? Why or why not?
Swimp: Civil rights, as outlined by the U.S. Constitution, are rights or privileges endowed to U.S. citizens (i.e., the right to vote or to receive fair treatment from the law). Illegal aliens are not U.S. citizens, but are criminals who can rightly be considered fugitives from the law. Illegal aliens violate U.S. laws by unlawfully crossing U.S. borders. Such entry is a misdemeanor, but, if repeated, becomes punishable as a felony. Hence, all who cross the borders are criminals being pursued by law, rather than citizens whose civil rights are being violated. Per the Immigration and Nationality Act Section 237 (a)(1)(B), “Any alien who is present in the United States in violation of this Act or any other law of the United States is deportable.” In light of the negative impact of illegal aliens on Black unemployment, education, health, and safety, it would be acting against our own best interest to fight for policies such as the Dream Act or to fight for illegal aliens under the false premise of “civil rights.”
Loop21: Has the influx of immigrants hurt African Americans’ economic and social position in America? Why or why not?
Swimp: It is very important that we understand that legal immigrants cannot hurt Blacks economically or socially if we are willing to take personal responsibility to equip ourselves to be competitive in a global society. We must also recognize the importance of circulating the dollar in our community at a rate sufficient for the community as a whole to thrive, regardless of the influx of legal immigrants. Legal and fair competition with legal immigrants should not be frowned upon, as legal immigrants have played a prominent role in helping to develop and cultivate what we know to be a great nation.
Loop21: What does the ideal state immigration law look like to you?
Swimp: The State of Alabama has constructed the best state immigration laws in the nation. Their law:
- Authorizes state and local police officers to ask about the immigration status of anyone they stop based on a “reasonable suspicion” that the person is an illegal immigrant
- Bars illegal immigrants from enrolling in any public college after high school
- Obliges public schools to determine the immigration status of all students, requiring parents of foreign-born students to report the immigration status of their children
- Requires Alabama’s public schools to publish figures on the number of immigrants—both legal and illegal—who are enrolled, and on any costs associated with the education of illegal immigrant children
- Makes it a crime to knowingly rent housing to an illegal immigrant
- Bars businesses from taking tax deductions on wages paid to unauthorized immigrants
Loop21: Why do you think those on the other side of this conversation are misguided?
Swimp: I don’t think politicians on the other side of this argument are misguided at all. I think they know the horrific impact of illegal aliens on the country. They take the opposing side because they are seeking personal advantage, such as obtaining or sustaining elected positions. Others benefit from illegal aliens in different ways. So it is not that they are misguided, but they simply don’t care about society at large as much as they do their own interests. As for the poor who are on the other side of this argument, I chalk it up to miseducation and dis-information. If they knew better, they would do better.
Loop21: Is there anything else our readers need to know about immigration as it relates to the African-American community?
Swimp: Absolutely. My challenge to the Black community is that we have to start taking it upon ourselves to learn the real terms of the immigration debate, whereby we can act in our own best interest in a way that is informed and productive for the community. For example, we need to know that there is a difference between an immigrant and illegal alien. Illegal immigration is really a misnomer. Politicians, both Republicans and Democrats, can at times be misleading because they have their own agendas. We should welcome legal immigration and fight against illegal aliens, as illegal aliens are significant contributors to factors that are serving to undermine the future of our children’s children.