Recent anti-immigration ads blame foreign-born workers as the cause for blacks not having jobs. One of the ads states: "If you're a black American, you've noticed many of us are out of work. You've probably also noticed a huge increase in immigration. Those two facts are related."
In the ads Dr. Frank Morris, former executive director of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, says 40% of the decline in black employment is due to immigration.
"Anybody that's trying to get a job as a day laborer, he is gonna have a hard time if you have a flood of immigrants coming into this state or into this country," said Rep. Credell Calhoun (D-Hinds County).
Calhoun is a member of the Mississippi Black Legislative Caucus. He recently voted for Senate Bill 2988 which forces employers to check the legal status of potential workers.
Governor Haley Barbour signed the bill into law this week. According to the Mississippi Immigrants Rights Alliance, the ad campaign was simply a tool to get the job done.
"Word was out that the Senate was gonna push out a bunch of anti-immigration bills thinking that the House was gonna reject all of them," said former state legislator and Alliance member Erik Fleming. "And so they had a counter offensive ready to get out there and get people especially the black community to start calling the Black Caucus to vote for these bills," said Fleming, who is currently campaigning as a Democrat for the U.S. Senate.
Fleming insists there are more prominent factors contributing to black unemployment. The ads have little relevance in Mississippi, said Fleming, "...when you are talking about physical plants that are moving out of the inner city, when you are talking about just going down to the Metrocenter Mall and seeing how stores move out of there that has an impact."
The claim contained in the ads -- that "'studies show immigration accounts for 40% of the decline in the employment of black men" -- stems from a working paper published by the National Bureau of Economic Research, a private research group. The NBER describes itself as a non-partisan group, but the liberal group SourceWatch cites conservative sources for the Bureau's philanthropic funding.
A report by KMBC-TV of Kansas City, Mo. found the statistical claim to be misleading, given the actual portion of legal and illegal immigrants within the American workforce. The CFAW ads ran in Missouri and in other states like Mississippi where immigration reform is a key political issue.
WLBT news producer Tom Wright contributed to this report.
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