T Willard Fair – The Philadelphia Tribune

“As my friend Roy Beck told me, economic history demonstrates that every time immigration levels have risen significantly, inequality has grown as well. The reverse is also true….It simply means that if we want to create a fairer economy, we can no longer ignore immigration’s unique contribution to racial inequality.”

Frank Morris – Chicago Tribune

Politicians in both parties pay lip service to helping Black Americans. If they were truly sincere, they’d listen to generations of civil rights leaders who’ve recognized the best way to boost Black Americans’ fortunes is to ensure tight labor markets.

Tom Broadwater – Pittsburgh Post Gazette

“…during the period of relatively restricted immigration between 1924 and 1965, the inflation-adjusted incomes of Black men grew 400 percent versus 250 percent for white men, and the proportion of Black middle class families tripled, from 22 to 71 percent.”

Jonette Christian – Lewiston Sun Journal

“Beck blames Congress, not immigrants, and he doesn’t claim that all problems facing Black communities are driven by immigration…[but the] numbers have played a largely unrecognized role…and Blacks have been especially harmed.”

Joel Rose – NPR – All Things Considered

“It is proven that you tighten the labor market and wages go up. It always happens. The fact that we had one year of less immigration…It’s one of the most positive things that could happen for tackling the economic inequality.” – Roy Beck

David Holzman – JC on Public Safety and Homeland Security

“Beck is thorough. The book draws heavily on academic research into economic history, publications run by Black people, statements of black leaders beginning with Frederick Douglass, and the determinations of multiple gov’t commissions on immigration, all of which warned that mass immigration would take jobs from low/no-skilled Americans…”

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Back Cover Text


While most Americans justifiably celebrate Ellis Island ancestors, here are the stories of what the long period of mass immigration after the Civil War meant to freed slaves, their children and grandchildren in the hiring lines of America: decades of delays in gaining industrial job experience, skills and career connections, and constant setbacks in accumulating and transferring wealth.

Average Black household wealth in the 21st century is only a fraction of the wealth of other racial ethnic groups, including recent immigrants. There are many reasons. This book is about one of them: periodic sustained immigration surges over the last two centuries.

This is a little-told story of the struggles of freed slaves and their descendants to climb job ladders in the eras of Frederick Douglass, W.E.B DuBois, A. Philip Randolph, Barbara Jordan, and other African American Leaders who advocated tight-labor migration policies. It is a great history of bitter disappointment and, occasionally, of great hope.

Linda Beck