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MITCHELL: Trump fires debate on whether immigration cost blacks jobs

Attorney General Jeff Sessions

The Justice Department on Thursday said it is giving Chicago and Cook County until Oct. 27 to comply with Trump administration immigration enforcement policies before yanking federal crime-fighting grants. | AP file photo

You’ve got to give it to President Trump. The man knows how to stir the pot.

His decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program had Democrats and their allies firing off statements left and right.

The NAACP went so far as to denounce the Trump administration as the most “destructive” in history.

“The decision to destroy DACA is the latest move by this administration to hurt as many families as possible and to disrupt the lives of hard-working people in the United States as quickly as possible,” said Derrick Johnson, the NAACP’s interim president and CEO.

U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush, D-Chicago, said “rescinding” DACA would deprive the country of nearly a million “talented” and “driven individuals.”

And the National Urban League labeled Trump’s decision the “latest onslaught on underrepresented and poor communities.”


But White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders echoed a sentiment I’ve heard time and time again from black people.

At a news conference Tuesday, Sanders said there are over “4 million unemployed Americans in the same age group as those that are DACA recipients; that over 950,000 of those are African-Americans in the same age group; over 870,000 unemployed Hispanics in the same age group. Those are large groups of people that are unemployed that could possibly have those jobs.”

That expression of empathy for the plight of unemployed African-Americans won’t erase the contempt that some people have for Trump after the Charlottesville debacle.

Nor is it going to change the minds of black folks who consider Trump to be the “white people’s president.”

But tagging African-Americans in the political fight over illegal immigration has reignited the debate over whether immigration led to the displacement of blacks in the job market.

William E. Spriggs, an economics professor at Howard University who is chief economist for the AFL-CIO, dismissed the idea that immigrants are taking jobs that could go to blacks.

“Let’s be clear what DACA is about,” Spriggs said on “NewsOne Now,” a program hosted by Roland Martin. “These are people who are going on to college, who are joining the military. So these are not people who are trying to scrub floors, they are not trying to be at a fast-food restaurant, and there is a reality that the economy can’t grow without population growth.

“When you make the comparison where there are immigrants and where there aren’t, you see one thing in common: America loves to discriminate against black people,” said Spriggs, who is black. “We act as if Hispanics weren’t there, they would hire us. No, if Hispanics weren’t there, they still wouldn’t hire us.”

A report last year by the University of Illinois at Chicago’s Great Cities Institute found that 47 percent of 20- to 24-year-old black men in Chicago and 44 percent in Illinois were out of school and out of work in 2014, compared to 20 percent of Hispanic men and 10 percent of white men in the same age group.

It is hard to believe that that many young black men are unemployable.

Then along came the successful racial discrimination lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission against Rosebud Restaurants, a popular chain of 13 Italian restaurants, and those numbers begin to make sense.

Because Mayor Rahm Emanuel is committed to leading the charge on protecting undocumented immigrants, you can expect the Trump administration to rub his face in the city’s high unemployment rate among blacks

But instead of falling into the divide-and-conquer trap that Trump has set, use that energy to expose workplace discrimination.

That’s the real enemy.