Press Release: National “Kinship Assembly” to Unite Black Immigrants and African-Americans

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Press Contacts:

Tia Oso, Tia@blackalliance.org, 917-310-3785

Opal Tometi, Opal@blackalliance.org

National “Kinship Assembly” to Unite Black Immigrants and African-Americans

Issues including immigration reform, voting rights and economic justice to be discussed

[Miami, FL – May 9, 2014] From May 23rd- 25th, 2014, an estimated 150 community leaders from across the country will gather in Miami to discuss racial justice and immigrant rights. Hosted by the Black Immigration Network (BIN), a national “kinship” network comprised of black immigrants and African Americans, leaders and activists will convene at the Little Haiti Cultural Center for three days of strategizing, networking and building a movement to unite Black communities for racial justice and migrant rights.

 

Immigration is a hotly contested issue and media often focus on Mexican immigrants and conflict along the U.S.-Mexico border. There are countless untold are the stories of Black immigrants who bear the brunt of disproportionately high rates of deportation, unemployment, and economic exploitation, many living life in the shadows due to undocumented status. Over 3 million Black immigrants from countries in the Caribbean, Africa, Europe and Canada live in the United States, comprising 10% of the U.S. foreign-born population. BIN is dedicated to connecting these communities for action and raising their collective voices for social, political and economic justice.

 

With the theme of Rising Together, this biennial Kinship Assembly will feature the use of African Diaspora Dialogues, a small-group exercise designed to build transformative change and mutual understanding between African-Americans and African immigrants on issues of race, culture and identity.  It will also include strategy sessions on Haitian family reunification, immigration reform and mass incarceration/mass detention.  The conference coincides with the culmination of Miami’s month-long celebration of Haitian Heritage Month, and will be co-hosted by local grassroots organizations including Florida Immigrant Coalition, Dream Defenders, Power U, Haitian Women of Miami, Florida New Majority, and Caribbean Lawyers Association.

 

“Black immigrants and African Americans have the highest unemployment, highest incarceration, lowest wages and a many more challenges facing us. This is our attempt to rectify that because our communities deserve justice and dignity, and we should have a fighting chance”, said Opal Tometi, Co-Director of Black Alliance for Just Immigration (BAJI), the coordinating entity for BIN.

 

In March 2013, BIN successfully led the charge to raise the voice of Black immigrants by ratifying its 10 Principles for Just and Inclusive Immigration Reform, petitioning the US Senate, and mobilizing hundreds of African Americans and Black immigrants for a national rally at the US Capitol. BIN has also developed a strategic partnership with the Congressional Black Caucus, organizing a panel for it’s Annual Legislative Conference last June on “Pan African Immigration Reform.”

 

“It is important in this heightened moment for Afro Immigrants and African Americans to continue to traverse the bridges that were built during past struggles like the Civil Rights fights, the various independence movements and the dismantling of the racist apartheid system,” said Donald Anthonyson, organizer with New York-based Families for Freedom.

 

Francesca Menes, Policy and Advocacy Coordinator for Florida Immigrant Coalition agrees. “Our communities need the additional support,” she said. “Florida has one of the largest Caribbean populations in the U.S. and it’s important to give community members an opportunity to hear some policy analysis, participate in peer-led workshops and voice their issues.”

 

The goal of the assembly and BIN overall is to develop a network that nurtures relationships among Black-led organizations, builds collective strategies for justice, and provides support to make their work more effective.

 

Trina Jackson of Boston-based Network for Immigrants and African Americans in Solidarity shared, “In a day and age where African Americans are pitted against immigrants, we are a group that says this must stop – we embrace and love one another, and know that our commitment to justice is a commitment to all of us!”

 

Registration information for the conference can be found online at http://blackimmigration.net

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On International Migrants Day, Black Voices Call For Immigration Reform With Racial Equity

In recognition of International Migrants Day on December 18, 2012, the BLACK IMMIGRATION NETWORK, a national network of African American and black immigrant organizations announce its collaboration to uplift black voices in the immigrant rights debate. The network cites the need for an understanding of racial justice as a key principle for immigration reform and for the contemporary struggle for racial equity for all people of color.

 

The BLACK IMMIGRATION NETWORK (BIN) was conceived through the efforts of Oakland-based organization Black Alliance for Just Immigration (BAJI), the Chicago-based Center for New Community’s Which Way Forward (WWF) Program, and American Friend Services Committee’s Third World Coalition (TWC) with particular help from their Northeast Regional offices. They began their efforts in 2009 and have now grown to involve over 20 organizations nationally and several hundred black participants in a variety of convenings and advocacy efforts over the years.

 

The observance of International Migrants Day is significant to the BLACK IMMIGRATION NETWORK’S analysis of how globalization has changed the political and economic landscape – in the United States of America and throughout the world. Various international policies, wars, corporate greed and environmental conditions ultimately displace millions of people and force them to migrate to other countries in order to survive.

 

The BLACK IMMIGRATION NETWORK recognizes that often times the same types of oppressive laws and culture that historically, and currently disenfranchises African American communities is gaining momentum and finding more fuel through its attack on immigrant communities in the United States. The coded language that is often hate-filled, coupled with anti-immigrant racial profiling laws, such as Alabama’s HB 56, and other practices encourages violence that threatens both African American communities and immigrants of color. Sadly these laws and practices do not comply with United Nations Human Rights Conventions such as those protecting the Rights of Migrants or the Convention to End all forms of Racial Discrimination.

 

In its quest for racial justice, BLACK IMMIGRATION NETWORK (BIN), has also observed that current immigration policies and practices discriminate based on race and class. This discriminatory practice adversely impact immigrants from Africa, the Caribbean and other Afro-Latinos in the Americas. To this end BIN promotes the leadership of black immigrant and African American leaders in the struggle for immigrant rights to ensure that as Comprehensive Immigration Reform is being debated – black concerns are not further marginalized.

 

Trina Jackson of Network for Immigrants and African Americans in Solidarity, based in Boston, MA explains, “Our challenge as a movement is to turn the common ancestry and the common struggles of African Americans and black immigrants into concerted advocacy and a common action agenda benefiting all of our communities.”

 

The network is rapidly expanding as organizations and individuals across the nation realize that black communities care about immigration. And more importantly that black communities are always undeniably impacted by immigration. From re-framing the notion that “immigrants are stealing jobs” to educating black communities about the ways in which corporations and governments are pitting our communities against one another to weaken our power. BIN is poised to have these important educational conversations about race as well as work on policy initiatives that will benefit black communities.

 

Some of the organizations represented in BIN’s membership include the Highlander Research and Education Center, Families for Freedom, Moving Forward Gulf Coast, Priority African Network, Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles, Florida Immigrant Coalition, Casa de Maryland, Center for New Community and Black Alliance for Just Immigration. Its leadership structure includes a national steering committee and a host of working groups, including a group specifically focused on Family Reunification Visas for Haitians and a working group focused on Education and Training.

 

The Black Immigration Network (BIN) is a kinship of organizations and individuals connecting, training and building towards policy and cultural shifts for a racial justice and migrant rights agenda. BIN’s vision is that people of African descent unite for racial justice and migrant rights to achieve social, economic and political power.

 

You can learn more about the network by visiting: www.blackimmigration.net