O’Reilly Interviews President Obama, Misses Chance to Enlighten Audience on Immigration Link to American Job Loss

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By Joe Guzzardi

Joe is a CAPS Senior Writing Fellow whose commentaries about California's social issues have run in newspapers throughout California and the country for nearly 30 years. Contact Joe at joeguzzardi@capsweb.org, or find him on Twitter @joeguzzardi19.

The writer's views are his own.

February 16, 2014

Obama O'Reilly InterviewIn anticipation of his Fox News interview with Barack Obama, Bill O’Reilly solicited questions from his viewers that he might ask the president.

Here’s the one I submitted: “Comprehensive immigration reform, which you support, has been headline news for more than a year. Can you explain how adding 30 million more legal workers during the next decade would help unemployed Americans? Specifically, how would immigration reform help the one in five African-American workers who were unemployed in 2013?”

I wasn’t surprised that O’Reilly didn’t use my question. Even on Fox News, immigration rarely gets equal time. But I was disappointed that jobs and unemployment weren’t included. If O’Reilly’s objective was to highlight Obama’s most glaring failures, then high unemployment should have been on his list. For added emphasis, O’Reilly could have pointed out that under America’s first black president, African-Americans have regressed in the employment market.

A new report from the Economic Policy Institute summarized the African-American employment situation as “alarmingly bleak.” In 2013, black unemployment averaged 13.1 percent, far higher than the highest overall annual unemployment rate over the last 70 years. About 19.6 percent of black workers (nearly one in five) were unemployed at some point in 2013.

Furthermore, an analysis of 2014 unemployment projections indicates that 17.4 percent of black workers will be unemployed at some point this year. The EPI concluded that the labor market is improving extremely slowly for all major demographic groups, but the employment situation of African-Americans remains “akin to depression-level conditions.”

O’Reilly grilled Obama on Benghazi, the IRS scandal and the Keystone Pipeline, as well as the Affordable Health Care Act and its well-documented problems. But the direct relationship between American job loss and immigration is an ongoing crisis that too few are aware of. Had O’Reilly used immigration and jobs as one of his talking points, he would have put the president on the spot, enlightened Americans and scored what might have been his biggest triumph of the night.

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