2016 Kinship Assembly – Black Love Beyond Borders

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Join the Black Immigration Network for the 2016 Kinship Assembly to be held in Los Angeles, CA April 8-10 2016. Visit www.BlackImmigration.net/Kinship for more information.

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. The Kinship Assembly, known for its rich content and camaraderie, brings together leaders from organizations and programs that serve, organize in, advocate for, and/or provide research for African, Afro-Caribbean, Afro-Latino and African American communities in the United States and that are run by members of these communities. The 2016 Assembly will include compelling plenary sessions, enriching workshops on a variety of topics, relationship building opportunities and an empowering, uplifting and strengthening space.


Linking Black Struggles on International Migrants Day

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marcha ofranehThe Black Immigration Network continues to engage in the US to raise awareness of the plight of migrants and refugees globally and advocate to uphold the human rights of all. As the United Nations reports, displacement is at an all time high, with a record 59.5 million people forcibly displaced by conflict. Today one in every 122 humans is now either a refugee, internally displaced, or seeking asylum. Add to this number the millions forced to leave their home countries to seek work because global capitalism has decimated their economies. The numbers are staggering and the testimonies are heartbreaking. In 1990, the United Nations a resolution on International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families. A decade later, the UN declared December 18th as the Day of International Migrants.

 

It was asked then and remains a question now, what does this day mean to migrants and refugees of African descent?

 

This year marks the 25th anniversary of the Convention, and the struggle to recognize the human rights of all migrants globally continues. We do not celebrate International Migrants’ Day, as our communities face a serious crisis, but we do commemorate it. The 2015  BIN Kinship Action Call will bring to focus the challenges of Black communities across the globe fighting displacement, human rights violations, economic exploitation, xenophobia and attacks on birth right citizenship. In this call, moderated by Opal Tometi, Executive Director of Black Alliance for Just Immigration and Co-Founder of Black Lives Matter and internationally recognized human rights activist Nunu Kidane, Founder of Priority Africa Network, we will hear reports from courageous leaders organizing to defend the human dignity and rights in these communities:

 

  • South Africa - Sibusiso Innocent Zikode, Founder and Chair, Abahlali baseMjondolo (South African shack dwellers’ movement)
  • Dominican Republic/Haiti - Altagracia Jean-Joseph, law student and human rights activist
  • Honduras - Carla Garcia, International Coordinator, Fraternal Black Organization of Honduras (OFRANEH)
  • Germany -Bino Byansi Byakuleka, refugee from Uganda, African Refugee Union and author of We Are Born Free 
  • United States - Carl Lipscombe, Policy and Legal Manager, Black Alliance for Just Immigration
  • Moderators - Opal Tometi, Executive Director, Black Alliance for Just Immigration and Nunu Kidane, Founder, Priority Africa Network

Register here to join this dynamic call.

 

 

A call and movement focused on the state of Black immigrants is of great significance. In the past three years, there have been more deaths of African migrants crossing the Mediterranean  Sea. In South Africa, fellow African migrants were brutally attacked in riots involving jobs, land and housing. In the Dominican Republic, people of Haitian origin are forced out from the only home they know. In Israel, Australia and Italy, refugees of African descent are treated with brutality and distain, in overt racism and total disregard for human rights. Migration has become a most contested issue globally. In the US, it is the most frequently raised topic in the lead up to the presidential elections. In France, the right wing the National Front, an openly anti-immigrant party scored a major victory of late. Immigrants of African descent are particularly viewed as threats in Europe with proposed policy measures for mass deportations to forcibly return them to their countries of origin without due screening.

 

The present state of fear, xenophobia and Islamophobia gripping nations over the rise of immigrants leaves little room for level headed dialogue on root causes of increased migration. The continued expansion of corporate powers and profit at the expense of human lives, the plundering of our environment and dispassion of land from farmers, increasing conflict and wealth gap are all factors that contribute to increased mobility.

 

As the United States is a leading force in creating these deplorable conditions, the Black Immigration Network is committed to strengthening allyship in the United States and building relationships globally throughout the Diaspora in order to grow a strong movement to defend the human rights of all. This International Migrants Day is an opportunity to do just that.


Connecting the Diaspora on International Migrants Day

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International Migrants Day is held annually on December 18 to recognise the efforts, contributions and rights of migrants worldwide. The Black Immigration Network (BIN) will gather in recognition of International Migrants Day  to hear from leaders in the U.S., Europe, Africa and the Caribbean via teleconference.

 

As Black people around the globe experience structural racism, xenophobia, religous intolerance and the adverse impacts of globalization, connecting across the diaspora to build a movement that protects the human rights and fundamental freedoms of migrants, is key to our liberation.

 

 

 


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


“This Was My Friend”- Communities Respond to LAPD Murder of “Brother Africa”

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BLACK IMMIGRANT AND AFRICAN AMERICAN LEADERS MOURN THE LOSS OF “BROTHER AFRICA”

africas wingsOn Sunday March 1,  Charley “Brother Africa” Leundeu Keunang, a 43 year old Cameroonian  immigrant living on Skid Row was killed by Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) officers. Members of Black Immigration Network in Los Angeles are actively involved in organizing the community to seek justice in his case. Read the Black Alliance for Just Immigration statement regarding this horrible tragedy.  (http://www.blackalliance.org/brotherafrica/) Follow #CantKillAfrica on social media for updates on ongoing actions.

 

Brother Africa’s death brings into focus the convergence of state violence in the lives of Black people, and particularly the implications for Black immigrants. Ota Omoruyi, a Nigerian immigrant and friend of Keunang told Complex: “Why did this happen? It’s a mystery to me. I didn’t know [his life] was going to end like this—he didn’t know it was going to end like this,” says Ota Omoruyi, a Skid Row resident from Nigeria. He’s known Africa for about six months, and calls him “Cameroon,” Africa’s home country. He wrote this nickname on a piece of cardboard that’s now the centerpiece of the memorial that stands where his friend once lived.

 

“I’ve never known him to be violent, I’ve never known him to be confrontational,” he says. “I’ve known him to be intellectual, and to talk with purpose. I cannot say what went on in his mind when the police came. But I know he was depressed for about a week, thinking about sending money home, to his people, and about getting out of homelessness.” Full Article Here

 


Black Struggles in a Global Context

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BIN Recoognizes International Migrants Day

Black Struggles in a Global Context – Kinship Action Call Recap


The 2014 Migrants Day Call was very informative and gave a much needed perspective on the intersection of migrant rights, racial justice, state violence, gender issues and our very urgent need to organize.


Call to Action! - Sign and Endorse the Reunite Haitian Families Campaign: Sign the petition - http://reunitehaitianfamilies.com/take-action/ and please share it via your networks, your social media, website and blog. Also, if you represent an organization, we need your endorsement - http://reunitehaitianfamilies.com/endorse-the-campaign/. Stand united for black immigrant issues!


Join BIN- We encourage everyone who is interested in working on these intersections to consider joining or giving a donation in support of the Black Immigration Network. You can see our membership criteria and join here: www.blackimmigration.net


Recap: International Migrants Day: Black Struggles in a Global Context
 
Nunu Kidane, Priority Africa Network: Nunu gave a comprehensive overview of the current realities faced by African migrants. Ebola, criminalization, stigma and resistance are all being confronted as African’s are on the move, across the continent and throughout the world, driven by economic, political and social forces.  Nunu’s presentation is available to members of the network at this time.
Kambale Musavuli, Friends of the Congo, Hands Up United: Kambale shared about the importance of connecting Ferguson to Black struggles across the world, as well as lifting up the visibility of African and Caribbean people in solidarity with Ferguson. Through networks such as BIN, we create the space to educate, connect and unite.


Kinship Updates
  • Families for Freedom - Executive Action: The Latest Felony Disenfranchisement - Abraham Paulos, Executive Director of Families for Freedom shared analysis on how the administrative relief measures, particularly the “felons not families” enforcement priorities shift focus to migrants entangled in the criminal justice system, and how, because of profiling, discriminatory targeting and law enforcement cooperation with ICE, black immigrant communities will still be at greater disproportionate risk of deportation.
  • African American/Black Woman’s Cultural Alliance  – Free Marissa Now Campaign Update- http://www.freemarissanow.org/ - Sumayya Coleman, Organizer with Free Marissa Now shared an updated on Marissa Alexander’s continued struggle for justice, her decision to accept a plea offer, including continued jail time and the work that the campaign will continue to support Marissa and call attention to violence against Black women, both domestically and at the hands of the state.
 
Resources

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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Reflecting on March on Washington and Black immigrant presence in US

Post by Nunu Kidane, BIN Steering Committee, Director of Priority Africa Network 

 

 

Among the many issues of contention in this year’s debate over Comprehensive Immigration Reform, particular focus has been paid to Diversity Visa.

 

Does Diversity Visa in fact meant to “diversify” racial populations by allocating more visas to Black and Brown people? What is the history of this policy and significance to Black populations in particular? In answering these questions, my goal is to not only to state facts and set the record straight but to raise a broader issue of the moral imperative race in the current immigration debate.

 

This is particularly significant this week as we focus on the 50th Anniversary of The March on Washington.  The national march on washington immigration reform debate isn’t exactly gripping the attention of Black America and is unlikely to get more than mere mention by speakers this week.  It is however gaining considerable mention from some African-American institutions and leaders.  Unlike previous years, the Congressional Black Caucus and progressive national groups like the Black Immigration Network have taken the lead to speak out on immigration through race lens. For Black immigrants and African-Americans, the immigration issue is primarily seen in two relevant areas: 1. Issue of labor and jobs and 2. Shifting demographic trends in the racial makeup of this country.

 

It is on the latter that the case of Diversity Visa is often cited.  It is claimed that presence of Black populations (particularly from Africa) would not have been possible if not for Diversity Visas.  This argument is increasingly made as a push back to recent conservative’s proposals to do away with DV in order to allocate the entry privileges to “more deserving” professionals and highly skilled foreign workers.

 

Diversity Visa is a national immigration policy introduced in the mid-1990s with 55,000 visa allocations each year to people coming from countries of “low rates of immigration to the US”.   Of the tree categories through which foreigners gain entrance to the US on “immigrant visas” Diversity visa is one; the other two are employment and family sponsorship.

 

To most readers, the word “diversity” implies mixed populations of racial and ethnic origin.  Federal immigration policies however make absolutely no reference to race or ethnicity.  The word ‘diversity’ in DV is entirely in relation to “regions of the world” (not persons of an ethnic group) with a history of “low admission” to the US.   Visa allocations from countries therefore include Europe and Asia, Latin America and the Middle East, in addition to Africa.

 

The emphasis on DV as one of the most coveted avenues for entry of Black populations in the U.S. is factually wrong.  While it does provide an opportunity for a small group of Black immigrants (amongst European and Asian) to come to the US, the figures do not make it the single most deserving issue of protection on the debate over race and immigration.

 

The majority of Africans coming to the U.S. do so by far on visitor visas, followed by visas of family sponsorships, employment and students.

 

The 2012 visa allocation for Africa:

 

Diversity Visa Visitor Visas Family Sponsorship Employment & Student Refugees
13,321 295,125 30,493 20,242 12,000

 

 

Moreover, residents of only five countries in sub Saharan Africa were recipients of the DV lottery in significant numbers that exceeded one thousand.

 

Congo Egypt Ethiopia Ghana Nigeria
1,219 2,004 1,416 1,677 1,850

 

 

The growing influence of Black voices on the current immigration debate goes beyond advocacy for a single-issue of Diversity Visa.  It is one of the many issues on the table and it does not by any means define the broad spectrum of the call for “just immigration.”

 

Black solidarity in immigration policy debate is about racial justice. Groups like the Black Immigration Network approach this through layers of history and understanding of the Civil Rights Movement, the anti-apartheid movement and current critical issues economic and social justice. This broader framework is important to understanding what immigration debate brings to progressive African Americans and Black immigrants.

 

As we advocate for maintaining DV and fight for policy changes, let us be as militant and vocal about issues of family separation. Hundreds of families are separated each day, in lengthy detentions and without due process.  Let us raise issues of increasing criminalization of immigrants in much the same way Black communities are criminalized and racially profiled.  It is about building alliances between those who call for end of mass incarceration of largely Black people to the mass detention of largely Hispanic immigrants.

 

This anniversary of The March on Washington makes us mindful more than ever, of King’s message.  It was not only about integration and racial equality; it was about the true meaning of citizenship and full rights, it was about access to jobs, fair housing and employment.  Most of all, it was about recognizing the inter-sectionality of all these issues and the inalienable right and dignity of human beings, deserving universal rights regardless of color or creed or national origin.  That is at the heart of what the Civil Rights Movement was about.