Challenging Kim Moody

— Michael Friedman

TWO REPORTS challenge Kim Moody’s assertion (Immigrant Workers in the United States, Part 1, ATC 127) that “[t]he claim is raised by some that the rapid growth of immigrant Latinos in the workforce has had a negative impact on wages. In any overall sense, the answer has to be no ...”

First, FAIR (Federation for American Immigration Reform, not the media watchdog group), reports that:

Second, a report Immigration and African-American Employment Opportunities (Working Paper 12518), from the National Bureau of Economic Research (ttp:// states that:

“Using census data from 1960–2000, the authors trace the evolution of wages, employment, and incarceration rates for particular skill groups in the black and white populations ... Their analysis finds that a 10 percent rise in immigrants in a particular skill group significantly trimmed the wages of black and white men alike.

“For African-Americans, the decline was 3.6 percent. For whites, it was actually slightly higher: 3.8 percent ... [But] from 1960 to 2000, black high school dropouts saw their employment rates drop 33 percentage points — from 88.6 percent to 55.7 percent ... The decrease for white high school dropouts was only roughly half that — from 94.1 percent to 76.0 percent.”

I don’t think, from a socialist point of view, that it is necessary to argue whether or not immigration conjuncturally depresses wages. Capital has ALWAYS used immigration policy as a way of putting pressure on domestic wages (among many other methods): this is nothing new. Even if there were no immigration, imperialism would (and does) find ways to super-exploit workers in Third World countries AND use this low wage labor as a battering ram against domestic workers.

Therefore, our best response isn’t to deny this pressure, just as we don’t deny the pressure due to any other form of racism or sexism, but rather to hammer away at the need for the left, labor and all oppressed people to support immigrants rights and full legalization, unconditionally.

Doctoral Candidate in Ecology, Evolutionary Biology and Behavior, City University of New York

ATC 130, September–October 2007