Immigration is bad for all Americans A black speaks out for a moratorium

July 14, 1996|By Terry Anderson

LOS ANGELES -- Pro-immigrant groups say the jobs immigrants are taking are jobs that black Americans don't want. Why is it, then, that when you go outside Southern California or Texas -- to Phoenix, say, or Washington -- you see black people holding the same jobs they used to hold here in Los Angeles? Black people want to work. But the jobs they used to have, paying $5 to $7 an hour for unskilled labor, now go to immigrants for $3 an hour.

In the late 1970s, I used to sell parts to body shops, and I knew Americans who were making $20 an hour repairing dented fenders. Now 95 percent of South-Central L.A. body shop jobs are held by recent immigrants making $7 or $8 an hour. People claim these savings are passed on to the consumer, but in most cases the savings go into the shop owner's pocket. In the meantime, taxpayers are footing the bills for services to immigrants, including education, which costs on average $5,000 year per child in California.

Pro-immigrant groups invariably bring up the question of who will pick the grapes if you stop immigration. It's true that Americans won't do that work for slave wages. If we tightened up the welfare system and paid Americans decent wages, those immigrants would not have to be brought in at all. There would be plenty of Americans who would either want those jobs or have to take them.

We have schools here that used to be 80 percent to 90 percent black and now, after a period of 10 years, are 80 percent to 90 percent Latino. As this trend spreads, blacks either can move to other neighborhoods or watch their children stuck in schools listening to Spanish all day. Yet nobody speaks up for our children the way the pro-immigrant organizations do for immigrant children.

My two-bedroom house is worth about $100,000. A comparable house two doors away sold for $135,000, and the buyers put five immigrant families in it. A black family can't pay that and can't live like that. In the American culture, we have one family to a house. Each of my immigrant neighbors has seven or eight children, while we Americans have two or three. Before long, all these children are going to need a place of their own. Does a black homeowner have to put four families in the house and a fifth in the garage in order to survive? A for-sale sign in our lTC neighborhood causes panic. We know who will get that house. There will be 20 to 30 people living in it, they will keep goats, they will grow corn in the front yard, they will hang their wash on the front fence. It's a culture clash.

If you speak up, you're called a racist. I am an American; I happen to be black. Immigration is a problem for all Americans, whether Latino, Asian, white or black. We are all adversely affected.

Immigration is not an issue of race; it's an issue of numbers, and they must be drastically reduced. The only way to accomplish this is through an immigration moratorium.

Terry Anderson is a mechanic and member of the national advisory board of the Diversity Coalition for an Immigration Moratorium.

Pub Date: 7/14/96

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