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[Excerpt] Before addressing the specific issue of illegal immigration and its economic effects on black Americans, the broad subject needs to be placed in perspective. No issue has affected the economic well-being of African Americans more that the phenomenon of immigration and its related policy manifestations. Immigration defined the entry experience of the ancestors of most the nation’s contemporary black American community (as slaves who were brought as involuntary immigrants); it placed them disproportionately in the states that today comprise the “South”( at no point in American history has less than half the black population ever lived outside the South); it disproportionately tied them for centuries to the rural sector of the southern economy where they were linked with the regions vast agricultural economy (the black migration out of the South did not begin until after 1915 when the mass immigration of the late 19th and early 20th Centuries from Europe and Asia were cut off by war from 1914-1918 and by restrictive legislation from 1921-1965); and, with the accidental revival of mass immigration in the years since 1965 that has continued to this day, immigration has served largely to marginalize the imperative to address squarely and affirmatively the legacy of the denial of equal economic opportunity that had resulted from the previous centuries of slavery and segregation which the civil rights movement and legislation of the 1960s sought to redress. In this post-1965 era of mass immigration, no racial or ethnic group has benefited less or been harmed more than the nation’s African American community.


Suggested Citation
Briggs, V. M. Jr. (2010). Illegal immigration: The impact on wages and employment of black workers. Testimony before the United States Civil Rights Commission. Ithaca, NY: Author.

The complete report of the United States Civil Rights Commission can be found here: