Immigration Will Keep Racial Politics Alive
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If the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks discredited the fantasies of the Open Borders lobby about the jolliness of mass immigration, what's happening in Los Angeles politics discredits the delusions about the harmonious multiracial future that mass immigration was supposed to bring. In the City of the Angels, blacks are finding themselves pushed out—politically and economically—by Hispanic newcomers. And they don't much like it.

"They are taking it over," a retired black city worker told the Washington Post last week. ["L.A. Politics Being Turned Inside Out: Council Redistricting Symbolizes Transfer Of Power to Latinos" Washington Post Nov. 24, 2001] "In the overall picture, Hispanics are taking over the whole of Los Angeles." It's hard to say he's wrong. Hispanics are already the largest "minority" group in the city, and a Hispanic candidate lost this year's mayoral race only because Hispanic voters seemed to take his victory for granted and failed to turn out enough. That won't happen twice, and as the Post reports Hispanics may soon seize the balance of power from blacks on the City Council.

At present, the 15-member Council has four Hispanic and three black members. The Hispanics may soon win a fourth seat in a by-election to fill a vacancy, and only one of the three black members still has a black plurality in his district. The myth of color-blind voting, which some in the Open Borders lobby probably really believed, has long since sputtered out. Today everyone but political illiterates knows Hispanic voters will elect Hispanic candidates.

The same pattern is emerging in other major cities. In New York, Hispanics abandoned the Democrats en masse when the Democratic mayoral candidate offended the Hispanic Bronx borough president and helped elect liberal Republican Michael Bloomberg, who now vows he won't enforce immigration laws in the city. In Houston this weekend, Hispanics nearly denied re-election to the Democratic black mayor. The point is not that some Hispanics are going Republican but that Hispanics and blacks both vote in what they see as their racial-ethnic interests, and those interests are increasingly seen as being in conflict. Hispanics will go Republican, as candidates or voters, in so far as they see their group interests served by doing so.

The stakes for one racial group losing the power it has enjoyed for decades are high. As the Post notes, City Council members in Los Angeles shape "the flow of city grants, social services and approvals of major office and housing developments," as well as appointments to government boards controlling multimillion-dollar budgets. Which race controls the power determines which race gets the spoils. As one black councilwoman told the Post, "It's not a Latino versus black issue, it's a power grab. It's about money." No doubt, but the Latinos grab the power and the money away from the blacks, so at bottom it is a racial conflict, a "Latino versus black issue."

So it is in jobs as well, as Hispanic immigrants displace blacks from the low-skill entry-level jobs that mean the difference between work and welfare. In the current issue of the New York Review of Books, Harvard sociologist Christopher Jencks surveys several recent studies of immigration and its economic and social impact and calculates who are the winners and losers. "Under America's current immigration policy," he finds, "the winners are employers who get cheaper labor, skilled workers who pay less for their burgers and nannies, and immigrants themselves. The losers are unskilled American-born workers." That, of course, means, blacks.

Neither Professor Jencks nor the Post story dwell on it, but the moral of the immigration epic is that as one race displaces another from political power and even employment, the result is almost necessarily going to be racial conflict. There has already been racial conflict in Los Angeles in hate crimes by Hispanics against blacks in public housing, but it's likely to get worse before it gets better.

And similar conflicts are likely to emerge in other cities as well, if they haven't already. Whites, as demographer William Frey has been pointing out for years, have long since left the major cities as the immigrants started coming in. They moved to the suburbs and then to other states and cities entirely. Where exactly underclass blacks are supposed to move no one seems to say.

The refusal of the federal government and those who run it to reduce immigration, coupled with the predictable (and indeed predicted) racial conflicts that mass, multiracial immigration brings, means that the Open Border lobby has mainly succeeded in building a gigantic powder keg into the heart of American cities. Sooner or later, as blacks get tired of losing both political power and economic opportunity to their new racial rivals, the powder keg will blow up in our faces.  

It's not just immigration from the Middle East that makes internal violence on a massive scale possible.


December 03, 2001

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