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Black Commissioner Who's the Only Republican on Civil Rights Commission Has a Warning for the Black Caucus


"[S]uch grant of legal status will likely disproportionately harm lower-skilled African-Americans."

LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 1: People rally in one a several May Day immigration-themed events on May 1, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. Demonstrators are calling for immigration reform and an end to deportations of undocumented residents. David McNew/Getty Images

The lone Republican member of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights has warned the Congressional Black Caucus in a detailed, 8-page memo that granting legal status for illegal immigrants would make it harder for some blacks to find jobs.

"[S]uch grant of legal status will likely disproportionately harm lower-skilled African-Americans by making it more difficult for them to obtain employment and depressing their wages when they do obtain employment," Peter Kirsanow wrote Tuesday to the CBC. "The increased employment difficulties will likely have negative consequences that extend beyond the economic sphere."

While many are calling for immigration reform, the lone GOP member of the U.S. Civil Rights Commission says it could hurt blacks looking for work. David McNew/Getty Images

Kirsanow, who is black, said he was writing on his own behalf, and was not speaking for the Commission on Civil Rights.

Kirsanow said the Commission held a hearing in 2008 in which witnesses agreed that illegal immigration disproportionately hurts black men. "The witnesses differed on the extent of that impact, but every witness agreed that illegal immigration has a discernible negative effect on black employment," he wrote.

"The obvious question is whether there are sufficient jobs in the low-skilled labor market for both African-Americans and illegal immigrants," he added. "The answer is no."

He added that low wages and incarceration both contribute to "the dearth of intact nuclear families" among blacks.

For all of these reasons, Kirsanow said granting "amnesty" to illegal immigrants would only further harm black workers.

"Not only will the low-skilled labor market continue to experience a surplus of workers, making it difficult for African-Americans to find job opportunities but African- Americans will be deprived of one of their few advantages in this market," he wrote.

Kirsanow was appointed to the Commission by President George W. Bush, and is the only Republican on the Commission today. The Commission is normally made up of eight members, and no more than four of them can come from any one party.

Currently, the Commission has six members — four Democrats, and one Independent.

Kirsanow's letter is consistent with the arguments made by some Republicans in Congress who say creating legal status for illegal residents would hurt the millions of Americans who are out of a job and looking for work.

Follow Pete Kasperowicz (@PeteKTheBlaze) on Twitter

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