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Saturday, June 29, 2024

Trump’s debate references to ‘Black jobs’ and ‘Hispanic jobs’ stir Democratic anger

Trump’s debate references to ‘Black jobs’ and ‘Hispanic jobs’ stir Democratic anger

“The phrase “Black jobs” was widely condemned by Democrats and Black leaders as vague and insulting.

Jaime Harrison, chair of the Democratic National Committee, speaks at a meeting of the Democratic Committee of North Carolina at the Word of Tabernacle Church in Rocky Mount, N.C., Thursday, May 23, 2024. (AP Photo/Karl B. DeBlaker)

Trump’s allies pushed back on the critiques as missing the president’s broader message.

“He meant the jobs of Black people. And we’ve been using that term for a while,” said Diante Johnson, president of the Black Conservative Federation. “It’s any job. Instead of Black people having unlimited accessibility to all types of jobs, illegal immigrants are taking their jobs from them.”

Much economic research shows that immigration has helped to increase employment, with a 2024 paper by the economists Alessandro Caiumi and Giovanni Peri finding that immigration between 2000 and 2019 had a positive effect on the wages of less educated workers born in the United States. Still, separate research have suggested that greater immigration may have hurt the wages of less educated Black men, though it was one of several factors.

Asked to clarify what Trump meant in describing a “Black job” during an interview with NBC News, Republican Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina, who is Black and is under consideration to be Trump’s vice presidential nominee, sidestepped the question, instead discussing homeless veterans.

Some Black adults do think there’s a possibility that immigration will affect employment opportunities for workers who are already here. About 4 in 10 Black adults say it’s a “major risk” that the number of jobs available to American workers will be reduced when immigrants come to the U.S. — whether they arrive legally or illegally — according to an AP-NORC poll from March. But the poll also found that about 3 in 10 Black adults think it’s a major benefit that immigrants will take jobs that Americans don’t want.

In some communities like Chicago, an increased number of migrants has generated greater economic anxiety and concern that government resources are not allocated fairly. Yet Black and Hispanic Americans are on average more supportive of immigration than other demographics, and in cities like Chicago, Denver and New York, racial justice groups have been at the forefront of mitigating potential strife between communities of color and undocumented people on issues like jobs.

For some Black activists, the comments changed little about the state of the presidential race.

Michael Blake, founder and CEO of the Kairos Democracy Project, said “It’s hard for someone to believe that (Trump) means they’re taking quality jobs.”

“It is the responsibility for us to then tell the story of the benefits of diversity, rather than the fears of it. And the notion that those people are taking from you is a fear-only message as opposed to asking: How do we all win?,” Blake added. “When you embrace all races, we all win. We should not allow fear of the past to supersede the prosperity of the future, because we all can win.”

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