As Juneteenth becomes federal holiday, advocates call for deportation relief for Black immigrants

As Juneteenth becomes federal holiday, advocates call for deportation relief for Black immigrants

Leading advocacy groups marked the first Juneteenth to be celebrated as a federal holiday by calling on the Biden administration to protect Black immigrants from deportation. While the administration has recently redesignated Temporary Protected Status to immigrants from Haiti, advocates say that ongoing conditions in African nations including Cameroon, Mauritania, and Somalia make a safe return for people like Susan impossible.

She said during a press call hosted by Haitian Bridge Alliance (HBA) and the African Bureau of Immigration & Social Affairs (ABISA) last week that “if we were sent back to Cameroon, we would be killed.” She spent an agonizing six months in immigration detention, and without relief provided by programs like TPS, could now face deportation to imminent danger. “Cameroon is temporarily unsafe for us,” she said.

Nearly 120 local and national organizations, including African Communities Together and U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, earlier this month called for Somalia to be redesignated for TPS, citing “armed conflict and extraordinary conditions.” The redesignation would allow Somali immigrants to live and work in the U.S. for a period of 18 months.

“In 2020, DHS listed arbitrary killings, forced disappearances, torture, arbitrary detention, forced evictions, sexual abuse, and child recruitment among the ongoing human rights abuses in Somalia as reasons for its TPS extension,” the organizations said in their letter to the Biden administration. “The State Department’s 2020 Country Human Rights Report confirms that all of these abuses continue.”

Advocates also called on the administration to address abuses here, including anti-Blackness in the nation’s immigration system. “Black immigrants are also significantly more likely to be targeted for deportation,” Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES) said in 2020. “While 7% of non-citizens in the U.S. are Black, they make up a full 20% of those facing deportation on criminal grounds, according to Black Alliance for Just Immigration (BAJI).”

“Immigrant detention is a horrible, dehumanizing experience for everyone,” the report continued. “But ICE makes it even worse for Black immigrants.” That includes Black immigrants being six times more likely to be sent to solitary confinement, and Haitian immigrants facing significantly more expensive bonds that make freedom impossible. “Last year, during the pandemic, nearly half of all migrant families held in immigration detention were Haitian,” Roll Call reported.

Today we reflect on the stain of slavery in our country & its legacy of trauma, systemic and institutionalized racism, mass incarceration & police brutality. This #Juneteenth coincides w/the 1 yr anniversary of the Black Immigrants Bail Fund. Donate:

— ImmDef (@ImmDef) June 18, 2021

“Our siblings are facing higher bonds,” ABISA founder Fatou-Seydi Sarr said. “And we understand when our brothers and sisters come to America, they are fleeing slavery, they are fleeing famine and war, they certainly don’t have 50,000 dollars in order to pay for their freedom from immigration prisons. Our commitment is to eliminate mass incarceration and level the playing field of due process.”

Others on the call reflected on the multiple traumas facing many Black immigrants. “So many people have to flee their homes, and so many endure the challenges and trauma that comes with the journey to leave where they once called home to find a new place that will welcome them with respect and dignity,” said Zack Mohamed, deportation defense organizer with the Black LGBTQ+ Migrant Project. “Many people find that at the end of those journeys, they are met with more criminalization and anti-Blackness.”

Recently, Maryland Sens. Ben Cardin, Chris Van Hollen, and New York Rep. Nydia Velázquez also issued their own letter calling on the Biden administration to review temporary status designations for a number of African nations, including Cameroon, Mauritania, and Somalia. “There is no numerical limit on the number of people who can hold TPS; rather, it is meant to provide relief to all those who cannot and should not be returned to dangerous conditions,” they wrote.

“As we celebrate Juneteenth, I want to acknowledge that many of us Black immigrants who were born abroad but who have made the United States our home have benefitted from the continuous fight for freedom by generations of Black people in the United States,” said Diana Konate, policy director for African Communities Together. “We join in on that ongoing fight because we recognize that regardless of where we were born, the experiences of Black people remain the same.”

From Daily Kos at Read More. This article is republished from DailyKos under an open content license. Read the original article at DailyKos.

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