USCIS Publishes New Welcome Guide

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The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has updated the “Welcome to America” guidebook . The guide is published by USCIS with practical informaiton to help immigrants learn about life in the United S040513-national-immigration-reform-black-oathtates. It also contains basic civics information that introduces information regarding the U.S. system of government. Free copies are available for download in 14 languages. Several language translations often spoken by African and Caribbean immigrants including Somali, Spanish, Haitian Kreyol, Arabic and French.

 


Rights 4 All in DR Advocates hit Capitol Hill

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BAJI Staff Carl Lipscombe, Ben Ndugga-Kabuye, Author Edwidge Dandicat and other Rights 4 All in DR Advocates with Congresswoman Yvette Clark

On October 21, the Rights 4 All in DR Campaign held an advocacy day on Capitol Hill, visiting congressional leaders to educate them on the crisis of statelessness facing Dominicans of Haitian descent. BAJI Policy Coordinator  Carl Lipscombe wrote about the importance of getting U.S. leaders taking action, “Unfortunately, the U.S. government has done little to support the thousands of Dominicans of Haitian descent, many who have relatives in the U.S. While several lawmakers have met with the Dominican government to no avail, the State department has yet to take an official stance against the deportations and a resolution denouncing the DR’s human rights abuses has yet to gain traction.

During our meetings with legislators we urged them to sign on to a joint letter to the State Department urging them to intervene, to reintroduce the resolution denouncing the unjust deportations in the DR, and to hold a congressional hearing on the matter.

We’re hopeful that Congress will take action –you can help by sending a letter to Congress urging them to respond to this urgent issue.

Read Carl’s full blog post HERE.


BIN Members Making News!

BIN Steering Committee member Francesca Menes of Florida Immigrant Coalition featured on Facing South Florida on CBS Miami.

BIN Steering Committee member Francesca Menes of Florida Immigrant Coalition featured on Facing South Florida on CBS Miami.

The Black Immigration Network is a national network of over 40 organizations as well as individuals leading and serving black immigrant and African American communities who are focused on supporting fair and just immigration, as well as economic and social policies that benefit these communities and all communities of color in order to create a more just and equitable society. These leaders are making news with their leadership, groundbreaking advocacy and raising issues of importance to Black communities. Check out this week’s BAJI Blog, the organization which hosts and coordinates BIN, highlighting some of the recent coverage.

 

 


Black Lives Matter Visits Cuba

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A group of Black Lives Matter activists reflect on the lessons they learned during a recent solidarity trip to Cuba

 

By Anita, Chapter Coordinator and Community Organizer with Black Lives Matter,
Amity, the BYP100 NYC Communications Co-chair,
Shannon, organizer with NYC Black Alliance for Just Immigration and Outreach Director for 2013 documentary film Black and Cuba

 

“Venceremos, my favorite word in Spanish, crossed my mind. Ten million people had stood up to the monster. Ten million people only ninety miles away. We were here together in their land, my small little family, holding each other after so long. There was no doubt about it, our people would one day be free. The cowboys and bandits didn’t own the world.” – Assata Shakur

 

Ninety miles south of the United States is a truly different world. As Black Lives Matter activists, from various groups in the movement, who have been calling for massive structural, political and social changes in our country, we decided to see just what change can actually look like. So in late July we came together with 45 strangers to embark on a life-changing journey to visit and learn about Cuba with the Venceremos Brigade.

 

In 1969, a coalition of young people formed the Venceremos, “We Shall Overcome”, Brigade, in order to show solidarity with the Cuban revolution and challenge U.S. policies towards Cuba, including the economic blockade and our government’s ban on travel to the island. Our trip, like those that came before us, consisted of work, educational activities, and travel.

 

We were introduced to a highly educated, politically conscious and diverse society that our government has tried to keep us from for more than 50 years. We met resilient, inspirational, loving people who taught us about generosity, community, humility, and the one simple truth of socialism: that people are consistently prioritized over profit. We found that even within socialism, racial justice is a struggle that must be fought for and encouraged. While we cannot claim to be Cuban experts after one or two weeks, we did learn a great deal about ourselves and what it will mean to continue to build and win a revolutionary movement in our own country.

 

The three of us — Anita, Chapter Coordinator and Community Organizer with Black Lives Matter; Amity, the BYP100 NYC Communications Co-chair and Shannon, organizer with NYC Black Alliance for Just Immigration and Outreach Director for 2013 documentary film Black and Cuba– came with different perspectives, met and bonded over our questions and analysis of the experiences we had during the trip.

 

We found that In Cuba, people do not like to talk about race.

 

For Cuba, racial discrimination is a curse that both fled the country with the Cuban exiles and stayed behind with the revolution.

 

To be fair to the Cuban revolution, many of the Black Lives Matter movement’s “radical” demands to alleviate the effects of structural racism have been fulfilled in Cuba: all education (including higher education) is free, healthcare is free, housing is subsidized, healthy food is subsidized, and more. In 1962 the Cuban government declared the end of racial discrimination through the implementation of these egalitarian policies. In the U.S., racism is aggressive and deadly, systemic and carefully calculated. Although not fully eradicated, we found it true that Cuba’s socialist model diminishes the presence of structural racism and Cubans rightfully take pride in being more socially advanced than the U.S. in their “pursuit” for racial equality.

 

But, more than 50 years into the ongoing revolutionary project in Cuba, racial equality has still not been fully achieved and is often not addressed directly. While Cuba is an amazing example of how socialism can work to benefit the good of all people, Cuba is also proof that socialism or any tactic other than deliberately and intentionally working towards eradicating institutional and structural racism will not yield total racial equality.

 

Read the full blog HERE.


Surveillance and Black Political Futures

Movement for Black Lives activist surround Cleveland Police vehicle demanding the  release of a 14 year old detained by transit  police.

Movement for Black Lives activists attendig the M4BL convenings surround a Cleveland Police Department vehicle demanding the release of a 14 year old detained by transit police.

There is something different about the air we are breathing today. As much as we are expecting something there is also a sense that by our every action history is expecting us. The arc of history does not naturally bend in a particular direction so BAJI and the Black Immigration Network joined hundreds of activists and organizations in Cleveland for the Movement for Black Lives Convening (M4BL). We expected to get some answers, but we may have left with more interesting questions.


Many of you have heard about the confrontation with police officers at the end of the convening but our first confrontation with security forces came during a night out at a local Cleveland lounge. What appeared to be an especially powerful night out for Black activists turned Michael Jackson werewolves and afro-beat mavens was in reality laced with aggression as Black trans men and women were surveilled throughout the night as they used facilities many take for granted. In response marching orders came from the DJ booth but for many the story that a Black trans man was forcibly removed from a bathroom came by mouth to mouth under the din of music cutting across the dimly lit lounge. We changed rhythms from dance to protest and the music stopped.


Mark Winston-Griffith argued convincingly that, “Black Love Matters.” If this principle of Black love is as central to our new rhythm then we must come to terms with the modes of surveillance different Black bodies face. This can be frightening and it is fear that in part explains the erasure of Black people who have no hope of translation, citizenship, or basic empathy. But if we are honest we are all under surveillance because anxiety over Black movement as any immigrant will tell you is central to understanding policing, the American Dream, or anything for that matter. And for that matter we can take for granted that M4BL was under heavy surveillance.


READ THE FULL BLOG HERE.


Real Story Behind European Migration Crisis

The Real Story Behind European Migration Crisis

 

by Opal Tometi, Executive Director, Black Alliance for Just Immigration reflecting on her recent trip to Europe meeting with migration and racial justice advocates there:

 

“This past month I had the opportunity to travel to Europe and meet with immigrant rights activists from Greece, Russia, Germany, Brussels, France and more – and the common story that I heard was that economic hardships were leading to increased migration and migrant and refugee presence was being criminalized through various means across the continent of Europe.

 

In this video I shot and edited, Koray Yilmaz-Gunay, a Turkish immigrant who works with the Rosa Luxembourg Foundation and Migration Council of Berlin, discusses the root causes of migration across Europe and the political crisis that leads to tens of thousands of deaths in the Mediterranean Sea each year.”

 

WATCH THE FULL VIDEO HERE.

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A Global Movement to Stop Anti-Black Racism in the Dominican Republic

Hundreds of Dominicans of Haitian origin protest to reclaim their right to their Dominican nationality outside the National Congress in Santo Domingo

African-American and Black Immigrant Leaders Condemn the Government of Dominican Republic Ethnic Cleansing

Decry Racist Policy Denationalizing Dominicans and Children of Haitian Migrants as a violation of Human Rights



Approximately two weeks ago, an estimated 250,000 Dominicans of Haitian descent have been stripped of legal status due to a court decision that denationalizes generations of native and foreign-born Dominicans of Haitian ancestry. The ruling codified as Resolution 168/13 by the Dominican Republic’s Tribunal Constitution on September 23, 2013, retroactively removed the citizenship status of Dominicans of Haitian descent, rendering them stateless. This action denies these community members the required documentation to exercise basic civil rights such as: travel, work, voting, public education and housing. In essence, this ruling strips Dominicans of Haitian descent of their human rights and dignity, forcing them off their land, tearing families apart and violently deporting residents without a moment’s notice or due process.

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U.S.-based national formation the Black Immigration Network stands with the international community in condemning the Dominican Republic’s actions. The expulsion of Dominicans of Haitian Descent and Haitian migrants, regardless of immigration status, is unconscionable and wrong. The Black Immigration Network, a national organization of Black immigrants and African Americans, recognizes the racialized realities of the mass deportations and criminalization of black people as a human rights crisis. The policy is in violation of international human rights law, including the American Convention on Human Rights (ACHR). The practice of denationalization and deportation is a continuation of the legacy of anti-black racism in the Dominican Republic and must be stopped.

 

Resolution 168/13 has enshrined and bolstered a social and political climate that puts black people in the Dominican Republic in grave danger. Xenophobic violence including public lynchings of people presumed to be of Haitian ancestry. Raids and arson has plagued this nation for years and is currently on the rise. Already, over 30,000 people have fled to neighboring Haiti, in fear for their lives and uncertain of their status and ability to return to their homes in the Dominican Republic.

 

The Black Immigration Network (BIN) stands with people of conscience around the globe, international stakeholders, civil society and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to demand the Dominican government immediately halt the removal of denationalized Dominicans and Haitian immigrants, and guarantee that individuals are not arbitrarily, unjustly, and permanently deprived of their civil and human rights.

 

BIN supports a boycott of all tourism to the Dominican Republic and urges the United States government to use this period to expand the U.S. Haitian Family Reunification Parole Program (HFRPP) in an effort to provide reprieve and justice for those adversely impacted by lagging immigration policies in the U.S. and in the Dominican Republic.

 

The Black Immigration Network calls for a Week of Action July 27- August 1, in partnership with grassroots activist and organizations to bring attention to this injustice and international solidarity to end this human rights crisis. All Black lives matter, beyond borders — the time is now for a global movement to stop anti-black racism in the Dominican Republic and promote national reconciliation.

This statement is published publically and available via Huffington Post Black Voices

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Media Inquiries: Tia Oso, BIN National Coordinator  - 480-382-1753 – Tia (AT) BlackAlliance.org


Take Action Against Apartheid in The Dominican Republic

Hundreds of Dominicans of Haitian origin protest to reclaim their right to their Dominican nationality outside the National Congress in Santo Domingo

5 Ways You Can  Stand In Solidarity With Dominicans of Haitian Descent

 

As of June 17, approximately 210,000 Dominicans of Haitian descent are under  threat  of deportation  by the Dominican Government. Since 2004, the Dominican government has implemented a rigorous set of policy  including the Ruling Sentence 168/13 of the Constitutional Court of the Dominican Republic, including a 2010 interpretation of the citizenship provisions of the Constitution which ”ruled that the children of undocumented migrants who have been in the Dominican Republic and registered as Dominicans as far back as 1929, cannot have Dominican nationality as their parents are considered to be “in transit.”

 

The enforcement of this ruling, aimed at revoking the citizenship and civil rights  of people of Haitian descent, both native born and immigrants has  rendered those affected  stateless. The rulings and actions of the government have fueled anti-Haitian sentiment, leading to violence against “Haitian looking” people and an increase in widespread discrimination. June 16 marked the deadline for those who could prove their nationality rights to “regularize” and all are now subject to deportation. The Dominican government has reportedly secured dozens of busses  and built “Welcome Centers” at the Haitian/Dominican border in preparation for removals.

 

As the international community watches this ethnic cleansing, the Black Immigration Network reached out  to members organizations and allies in the Haitian American  community for ways that community, organizations and leaders can support advocacy efforts, raise awareness and stand in solidarity with the communities of Dominican people affected by this human rights crisis.

 

 

Here are 5 ways you and your organization  can help:

 1.SIGN: Add your organization’s name to an Open Letter to President Danilo Medina, Dominican Republic: bit.ly/HaitianLivesMatter
2. TWEET: the Twitter Rally all day today using the hashtag #HaitianLivesMatter.  Tell @PresidenciaRD #HaitianLivesMatter!
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3. EDUCATE: Use and share these links and resources to learn more about the denationalization of Dominicans of Haitian Descent

4. JOIN: A solidarity action in your  area or plan one - https://endapartheidinthedr.wordpress.com/actions/
5. BOYCOTT: many groups are calling for a boycott of travel and tourism to the Dominican Republic until the government rescinds its denationalization  of Haitian descendents and addresses racism in the Dominican Republic. Follow the  campaign on social media  #ENDAPARTHEIDINDR, #DONTGO2DR, #BOYCOTTDR 

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Now Hiring: Black Immigration Network Policy Coordinator

Black Immigration Network

 

The Black Immigration Network  (BIN)  a  national kinship of nearly 30 Black-led organizations that are connecting, training, and building towards policy and cultural shifts for a racial justice and migrant rights agenda is seeking a Policy Coordinator. The BIN Policy Coordinator will work towards challenging the continued local enforcement of federal immigration laws as well as rules and regulations that undermine the welfare of immigrants.

 

This position is with the Black Alliance for Just Immigration (BAJI) is the coordinating body of the Black Immigration Network (BIN)The Policy Coordinator will work closely with BAJI local staff and BIN Coordinator to ensure policy research and campaign objectives are clear and achieved.

 

Details and application instructions can be found at: http://www.blackalliance.org/about/job-opportunities/policycoordbin/


California Bill Proposed to Cover Undocumented Immigrants

Black immigrants stand to benefit if ‘Health Care For All’ bill passes state

May 28, 2015

By Thandisizwe Chimurenga

Millions of Californians could actually be “covered,” for health care that is, if Senate Bill 4 (SB 4), the ‘Health for All Act of 2015’ sponsored by California State Senator Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens), passes.  The bill, scheduled to go before the Appropriations Committee at the end of this month, would expand access to health care for all Californians whether they are legal immigrants or not. Currently, undocumented immigrants are excluded from obtaining health insurance under the Affordable Care Act,  known within the state as Covered California. The bill continues the Senator’s efforts to address the exclusion of undocumented Californians from the state’s health care exchange.

- Read more here.