Do Undocumented Immigrants Take ‘African American Jobs’?

By Monique Morris, NAACP Vice President for Advocacy & Research

Originally posted at TheGrio.Com

Public opinion is loaded with divisive rhetoric that suggests that undocumented immigrants are taking "black" jobs-low wage occupations in domestic, agricultural and other industries requiring manual labor. It was the allegation that some used to fuel anti-immigrant sentiments in Arizona, and unfortunately, it is likely to live in the debates that will accompany the next wave of copycat bills in the making.

Legislators in at least ten states-including Utah, Oklahoma, Colorado, Ohio, Missouri, Georgia, South Carolina, Mississippi, Texas and Maryland-are now considering copycat bills to the one passed in Arizona, a problematic trend that promises to propel the myth that immigrants somehow keep African-Americans from working. Psychologists must revel at the simplicity of it all-the age-old strategy of "divide and conquer" that has dominated policymakers' responses to hard issues, especially in a troubled fiscal climate when employment remains elusive for so many.

April unemployment figures show African-Americans unemployed at 16.5 percent, unchanged from March 2010. In times like these, suggesting that someone is "taking your job" can become fighting words; but unfortunately, this fight has resulted in little more than a cadre of marginalized soldiers fighting over the wrong issue.