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Here’s how black undocumented immigrants are fighting for a voice

idi euaThe UndocuBlack Network aims to highlight the black immigrant experience to “blackify” the country’s understanding of the undocumented population.

The UndocuBlack Network aims to highlight the black immigrant experience to “blackify” the country’s understanding of the undocumented population.

For many immigrants, being open about their unauthorized status, is not an easy decision to make.

But it was particularly tough for Denea Joseph, especially since her story didn’t fall in line with the dominant immigration narrative, which is typically portrayed as a Latino issue.

Joseph is an immigrant from Belize, a nation on the eastern coast of Central America. She came to the United States with her grandmother when she was seven years old.

“As a black person within the undocumented community … it’s easy for you to fall through the wayside whether voluntarily or involuntarily,” said Joseph, 22, now a senior at UCLA.

For Joseph, being vocal about her identity is crucial at a time when the White House is ramping up efforts to deport unauthorized immigrants with criminal records. She wants to show that not all immigrants are Latino and that her community also fears deportation.

A 2015 Pew Research Center study showed that an estimated 575,000 black immigrants were living in the U.S. without authorization in 2013. Black immigrants come from African and Caribbean nations such as Jamaica, Haiti, Nigeria and Kenya.

Joseph is part of a national effort, known as the UndocuBlack Network, that aims to highlight the black immigrant experience to “blackify” the country’s understanding of the undocumented population and make it easier for the black undocumented community to access necessary resources. There are members in Los Angeles.

Members of the UndocuBlack Network are holding discussions about the black immigrant experience across Southern California. They met at Cal State San Bernardino on Monday, March 13.

Joseph said people often are confused to hear that black people can also be undocumented immigrants.

“We have to be aware that there are different identities within the undocumented community,” said Maria Barragan, coordinator for the DREAMers Resource and Success Center at Cal State San Bernardino.

“We’re not all Latino, Hispanic, or Mexican,” she said.

There are about 3 million unauthorized immigrants in California. While most are from Mexico, undocumented black immigrants also have settled here, according to the Migration Policy Institute, a nonprofit, nonpartisan think tank in Washington, D.C.

About 25,000 are from African countries, and some 2,000 originate from the Caribbean, data from the institute showed.
And they, too, risk deportation.

Unauthorized Mexican immigrants in the U.S. have been advised to prepare for possible deportation. U.S. immigration agents have targeted those with past criminal records or with previous deportation orders.

Joseph stresses that black undocumented immigrants also are vulnerable, especially because of racial profiling.

“No matter what, I may not be criminalized for my undocumented identity, but I’m criminalized by my existence,” Joseph said.

Black immigrants make up 5 percent of the unauthorized immigration U.S. population, but they made up 10 percent of all immigrants in removal proceedings between 2003 and 2015, according to a report, recently released by the Black Alliance for Just Immigration and New York University Law School’s Immigrant Rights Clinic.

For Joseph, making others become aware of these issues can help the undocumented community combat deportations and eventually achieve some kind of immigration reform.

“We have work to do,” she said. “We will only achieve comprehensive immigration reform if we work together.”

Fonte: The Press Enterprise

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