- The Washington Times - Monday, October 27, 2014

A member of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights told President Obama Monday that the administration’s reported plan to grant work permits to millions of illegal immigrants of illegal immigrants would have a harmful effect on black American workers.

Peter Kirsanow, a Republican appointee to the panel, said in a letter to the president and to the Congressional Black Caucus that issuing millions of work permits to potentially low-wage workers “will devastate the black community.”

“Such an increase in lawful workers would have a deleterious effect on low-skilled American workers, particularly black workers,” Mr. Kirsanow said. “Illegal immigration has a disparate impact on African-American men because these men are disproportionately represented in the low-skilled labor force.”

The president is planning to issue an executive order after the Nov. 4 election that many predict will grant temporary legal status for a significant portion of the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants in the U.S.

The Department of Homeland Security last week issued a draft contract for a large purchase of paper, asking for the contract to cover an anticipated “surge” in demand for so-called green cards. A White House spokesman denied that there was a covert plan to issue up to 5 million work permits per year, saying such orders of paper are routine and that Mr. Obama has yet to announce a decision.

Mr. Kirsanow, who said he was not speaking for the whole commission, urged Mr. Obama to “forgo” an executive order, saying that granting legal status to millions of illegal immigrants would depress wages for all racial groups. He said black workers’ wages have been the slowest to recover from the recession.

“Granting legal status to millions of people who are in the United States illegally will continue to depress the wages and employment opportunities of African-American men and teenagers,” he said. “It also will depress the wages and employment opportunities of African-Americas going forward.”

But the pressure on Mr. Obama from his own supporters to act unilaterally on the immigration issue is rising, especially with the prospect of a Republican-dominated Congress after next week’s midterm vote. Janet Napolitano, Mr. Obama’s first homeland security secretary, urged Mr. Obama Monday to move forward with an executive order in the face of congressional inaction.

“If Congress refuses to act and perform its duties, then I think it’s appropriate for the executive to step in and use his authorities based on law … to take action in the immigration arena,” Ms. Napolitano, now the president of the University of California system, said in comments reported by The Washington Post Monday.

Mr. Kirsanow blamed the recent “flood” of illegal immigrants across the Mexican border on Mr. Obama’s policies, saying it was “mostly attributable to your directive granting temporary legal status to people allegedly brought to the United States as children.”

“This is unsurprising. When you incentivize bad behavior, you get more of it,” Mr. Kirsanow said.

He also questioned the need for granting more special visas for high-tech workers, saying, “There is little evidence, other than the protestations of tech titans and politicians, that there is a shortage of” high-tech workers in the U.S.

• Dave Boyer can be reached at dboyer@washingtontimes.com.

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