Roy Beck, founder and president of nonpartisan immigration-reduction advocacy group NumbersUSA, has just released a book that reveals the damage mass immigration has done to the economic position of African Americans in the United States. The book, Back of the Hiring Line: A 200-Year History of Immigration Surges, Employer Bias, and Depression of Black Wealth, explains how the periodic floods of immigrants into the country over the years have created conditions which make it difficult for many in the African American community to prosper economically.
NumbersUSA, which welcomes members from all political persuasions, was founded by Beck on the principle that, to benefit society as a whole, governments should focus on implementing policies that enable them to select the right number of authorized immigrants to allow into the country. Beck gained his expertise on immigration in America during his years working as a journalist covering politics in DC and later as a policy analyst specializing in immigration and U.S. population issues. Prior to Back of the Hiring Line, he has written four books on immigration, the environment and the U.S. labor market, and on ethics, religion and public policy.
His latest book brings to light stories, little known today, of the challenges freed slaves and their descendants have faced in finding employment. Beck cites the examples of African American leaders such as Frederick Douglass, W.E.B. Du Bois, Marcus Garvey, and Barbara Jordan, who saw the danger excessive levels of immigration posed to the black working class and advocated for more restrictive immigration policies.
Back of the Hiring Line reveals that the toll mass immigration has taken on the economic prospects of freed African Americans and their descendants is not due to a single culprit or villain; rather, Beck writes, it is the result of policies that, for most of America’s history, have allowed immigration numbers to mount to levels beyond what could be considered “beneficial and sustainable.”
Beck founded NumbersUSA in 1996 to encourage implementation of the immigration recommendations of two national commissions: a bipartisan congressional commission chaired by former Rep. Barbara Jordan, and another commission created under presidential authority and chaired by former Sen. Tim Wirth. Since its founding, the group, based in Washington D.C. and Arlington, Virginia, has become the largest grassroots organization focused on immigration reduction in the nation.
NumbersUSA has more than eight million participants including conservatives, liberals and moderates. Its members are encouraged to persuade public officials that the country stands to benefit from reducing immigration numbers toward traditional levels, thereby enabling current and future generations to enjoy a standard of living that isn’t adversely impacted by excessive immigration numbers.
The negative effect of immigration on the African American community, as Beck highlights in the book, can be seen most clearly during the periodic surges of immigration that have occurred throughout our country’s history. These surges have been especially detrimental to working class African Americans, who, in the wake of the abolition of slavery, found themselves forced to compete with these new immigrants in the labor market.
“When those spikes occurred,” Beck writes, “the arc of American history bent dramatically away from justice for the families of freed slaves and their descendants — regardless of the race or origin of the new immigrants.”
A recent study backs up the theme of Beck’s book, revealing that, in Southern California, almost 70 percent of African American workers who lost their job were still searching for work a year after the pandemic started. The report, based on a survey conducted from May 2021 to July 2021, was produced by UCLA Labor Center’s Center for the Advancement of Racial Equity at Work (CARE at Work).
“Black workers in times of crisis, in times of economic recessions and downturns, are oftentimes the first to be let go from work, and then the last to be hired back,” Déjà Thomas, lead author of the report and CARE at Work program manager, said in an interview with Business Insider.
Beck has appeared as an immigration expert on hundreds of TV shows, radio programs, congressional hearings, university presentations, think tank and conference panels, and speaker’s forums. His article in the Atlantic Monthly detailing the problems stemming from excessive immigration in a small city was selected by the Encyclopedia Britannica for inclusion in a volume of the Annals of America as one of the most important writings in the 1990s.
The release of Back of the Hiring Line is timely for those who believe that the African American community and, indeed, the country as a whole, are better served by sustainable, rational immigration policies. It makes clear that swamping the job market with a flood of foreign workers, thereby forcing wages down, will have the effect of penalizing hardworking African Americans by driving many of them to lower rungs on the job ladder.
The book is available for purchase in either paperback, Kindle or audiobook on Amazon or through links on this page: backofthehiringline.com