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Blacks - African American, Immigrant and Refugee Forge Common Agenda

IMAGINE 2050, News Feature, Eric Ward Posted: Apr 21, 2009

In just three days, the lie that said that U.S. born African Americans reject humane immigration reform was utterly destroyed. In Baltimore, MD this weekend over fifty blacks from throughout the United States joined together to build the Black Immigration Network (BIN). The network will be made up of organizations and people of African descent who reside in the United States.

Convened by the Black Alliance for Just Immigration; Which Way Forward: African Americans, Immigration and Race; and the Third World Coalition of the American Friends Service Committee, BIN is the first national network concerned about immigration issues and racial equity issues surrounding both African Americans and immigrants of African descent. From housing to migration, participants mapped out the unique situation of all individuals of African descent. Whether it comes to getting a job or applying for refugee status, blacks tend to fall to the bottom of the well when it comes to national policy decisions said K.L. Shannon with the local King County NAACP.

In preparation for the upcoming debate on immigration reform, the Black Immigration Network explored emerging policy issues concerning Temporary Protective Status (TPS) for the Haitian, Liberian, Somali and Sudanese communities. Our refugee brothers and sisters are experiencing the same fear and harassment from law enforcement that we live with each day in the black community said AME minister The Rev. Cheryl Green. Recommendations on TPS, worker justice issues and immigration enforcement were developed that highlight the needs and desires of the black community.

The hate group the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) has used dubious data to argue that economically immigrants negatively impact U.S. born black families. Like most of FAIRs assertions these bigoted myths were debunked by Steven Pitts at the UC-Berkeley Labor Center, who in his presentation to BIN, showed that in a study of metropolitan areas there was no correlation between black employment and immigrant populations. Racial discrimination in employment, anti-union organizing and poor education are the major barriers to U.S. born blacks having access to jobs, said Somali organizer and executive director of the Center for Intercultural Organizing Kayse Jama. Black immigrants and refugees have a special responsibility to demand an end to structural racism that seeks to disenfranchise U.S.-born blacks, Jama said.

In Baltimore the anti-immigrant movement may have been delivered yet another in a series of recent devastating blows. The black community, immigrant and non-immigrant is beginning to act together across ethnic, religious and national lines with an eye on migration policy that lifts up both the nation and the black community. While there may be cultural and historical differences when it comes to the black community, one thing is surewere all catching hell, doesnt matter if youre immigrant or not, Green said.

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