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TheRootDC
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Posted at 10:41 AM ET, 02/14/2013

Obama’s focus on immigration: ignoring black issues once again?

Crystal Wright is an occasional contributor to The Root DC and is the editor of the political site “Conservative Black Chick”.
Blanca Flores, a member of Service Employees International Union (SEIU) United Service Workers West, holds a sign before a public viewing of President Barack Obama's speech on immigration Jan. 29, 2013. (MARIO ANZUONI - REUTERS)

An increasing number of blacks appear to finally be getting angry with President Obama and his policies. It’s just too bad it took four years and voting for the president a second time for blacks to realize the president won’t prioritize their issues. Immigration and the president’s determination to get legislation passed granting amnesty to an estimated 11 million illegal immigrants seems to be the straw that broke some black liberals’ backs.

Over the past week, some black Americans  have been calling into black  talk radio shows like “Keeping it Real with Al Sharpton”, complaining immigration is not an important issue to them.  This is despite Sharpton’s plea to one caller that amnesty isn’t just a “Hispanic issue”. But according to a 2009 Migration Institute  report, blacks from other parts of the world only accounted for nine percent of  US immigrants.

With black  unemployment at 13.8 percent —  almost twice the national rate of 7.9 percent — many argue that granting amnesty to more than 11 million illegal immigrants threatens to make jobs even more scarce  for blacks. As black radio host Earl Ingram noted his “listenership is  anti-immigration” because they are angry illegals are here taking jobs from them  because they are willing to work for less than minimum wage. A Pew Hispanic  report found during the height of the economic downturn 2009-2011 Hispanic employment grew by 6.5 percent while black employment grew by a minuscule 1 percent.

After voting overwhelmingly for Obama twice, blacks want to know when the first black  president will focus on issues impacting blacks like:  rising poverty, unemployment and incarceration rates, growing education gap and  economic decline of the black family?

When I tweeted  about this lack of love blacks are feeling for their blind support of Obama a  second time around, a black person replied: “Obama has always made it clear that he  is the POTUS not the President of Black America.”

Indeed, Obama  is  “president of all Americans” but Obama has made gay marriage a priority and less than 5 percent of the population is gay. He’s also made illegal immigration a priority  because 71 percent  of Hispanics voted for him but only make up 14 percent of the population.  These two groups don’t look like the face of “all Americans.”  But Obama seemingly won’t even give blacks a crumb. For starters, he has yet to name one black person to fill a cabinet position in his second term.

It may be too late for blacks to influence Obama because he doesn’t have an election hanging  over his head. But blacks should take a hard look at the gang of pundits and activists like Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson and organizations  like NAACP, Congressional Black Caucus purporting to fight for what’s good for blacks and ask them what have they done for blacks?

Blacks also need  to question the Congressional Black Caucus about its agenda . In its press release outlining its plan for the  113th  Congress, the CBC states “For more than four decades, the  Congressional Black Caucus policy agenda has promoted and advocated for  legislation that supports social and economic progress, . . .for African  Americans.”

So why is  immigration reform a key item in the CBC’s agenda? “Advancing legislation and  policies that lead to comprehensive immigration reform”, as they write, will do nothing to improve the economic situation for blacks and many black Americans appear to be waking up to this reality.

If black liberals are really at the lack of attention Obama is giving them, perhaps they should use this as a lesson. Instead of voting for candidates based on race or party, perhaps black Americans should try giving candidates a  thorough vetting before going to the polls and hold politicians accountable to  records in exchange for votes. Maybe then blacks would start getting something  in return for their vote other than the status quo.

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By Crystal Wright  |  10:41 AM ET, 02/14/2013

 
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