Black Immigration Network Heads to Los Angeles, CA to Address Racial Justice and Migrant Rights

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[LOS ANGELES,CA ] – Close to 400 Black community members, leaders, organizers and activists from around the world, including Canada, Dominican Republic, South Africa, Venezuela, Mexico and the United States, participated in the Black Immigration Network (BIN) Kinship Assembly April 8 to April 10 in Los Angeles, CA. Gathering with the theme Black Love Beyond Borders, the event was the 5th national convening of the Black Immigration Network (BIN).

BIN, the nation’s only black-led national organization of more than 40 immigrant rights groups, brought the activists together to help tackle myriad issues facing Black immigrants and African Americans in the fight for justice in the U.S. The assembly addressed a wide variety of topics including immigrant rights, refugee rights, physical and mental health, labor and workers rights, international human rights/land struggles, LGBTQ issues, mass criminalization—detention, deportation, incarceration and surveillance, Islamophobia and international feminism.

“We brought people of diverse backgrounds together to give them an opportunity to deepen their knowledge, build relationships and strategize ways to unite African-Americans and Black immigrants on the issues that we care about,” said Opal Tometi, executive director of the Black Alliance for Just Immigration (BAJI) and co-founder of #BlackLivesMatter. “Looking ahead, we are moving from a civil rights framework, to one of human rights. We want to connect our movements globally to pave the road to social and economic justice.“

The convening also highlighted issues of anti-Black racism and migrant rights in countries such as the Dominican Republic “Since the policy enacted in 2006, at least half a million people who were born or lived here lost their legal status for basic things like sending kids to school, going to hospital and other social services, just because they have Haitian ancestry, some for just looking Haitian,” said Altagracia Jean Joseph, a human rights activist living in Santo Domingo, DR.

Nationally and internationally respected Black leaders attended the convening including Emira Woods, Charlene Carruthers, umi selah, Lumumba Bundle, dream hampton and Elle Hearns. They were welcomed by LA community organizations African Communities Public Health Coalition, Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA), Black Women for Wellness-LA and Los Angeles Black Workers Center. Organization representatives from Priority Africa Network, Black Youth Project 100, #BlackLivesMatter International, Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, Trans Women of Color Collective, National Domestic Workers Alliance, Million Hoodies, Queer Detainee Empowerment Project, Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition, Dignity and Power Now, UndocuBlack, the Dream Defenders, Center for New Community and more presented throughout the three day program.

“Now is the time for all Black communities to come together,” said Tia Oso, national organizer of BAJI, “We are in a critical moment where Black leadership is transforming progressive social movements. With the DACA/DAPA case being heard by the Supreme Court, Black leadership in immigrant rights will become more and more important.”

Often overlooked in the immigration discourse, nearly 4 million Black immigrants from countries in the Caribbean, Africa, Europe and Latin America live in the United States, comprising 10 percent of the U.S. foreign-born population and 8.7 percent of the Black population in the U.S.

One of the highlights of the assembly is a report on the “State of Black immigrants” that is slated for release in Fall 2016. For the study, BAJI partnered with New York University Law School’s Immigrant Rights Clinic to conduct a study of Black immigrants in the U.S. immigration system.

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