Congressional Black Caucus: Immigration Not Just A Latino Issue
In preparation for this week’s immigration plan roll-out, three members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) gathered at Howard University to discuss immigration reform in black America and their priorities for the legislation.
New York Reps. Yvette Clark, Hakeem Jeffries and Steve Horsford of Las Vegas spoke at length about the importance of immigration for black and Latino communities. Alden Nesbitt, a DREAMer from Trinidad and Tobago and student in New York City, joined them.
The panelists spoke about why the issues are important to them personally and politically, emphasizing that members of their caucus must expand the immigration discussion to unite communities seeking racial justice.
A vision of immigration reform in the African-American community comes from understanding the issue as members of the African diaspora. Rep. Horsford presented the guiding principles the CBC has developed in preparation for the Gang of Eight’s immigration reform plan, announced today. None of the current "Gang of Eight" are African-American.
“The immigration system has ground-up humanity within its bureaucracy,” Rep. Yvette Clark (D-NY) said during the discussion at Howard, and that the CBC “needs to be conscious to avoid letting people exploit false divisions” among minority groups.
The CBCs priorities for immigration reform include the following:
- Everyone should have a pathway to permanent citizenship, without the need to depend on exploitative employers.
- Improve border security at both northern and southern points of entry to the United States.
- Family reunification must remain one of the ultimate goals. Immigration policy at its foundation should be about keeping families together.
- Incentivizing high-skilled labor is important, but the policy overhaul must recognize the importance of protecting and welcoming all kinds of laborers.
Other CBC-specific values for comprehensive immigration reform include better science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) funding at Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Latino-serving institutions as well as a re-examination of the criminal justice practices that disproportionately hurt black and brown immigrants and their communities.
"We are at the cusp of doing something big, but we have to be careful to not just accept anything," Horsford said.
From both the panelists and the audience there was a clear sentiment that the many ongoing injustices of the American immigration system must end, along with their legacy of creating partitions and competition among minority groups.
Emma Weinstein Levey is a reporter at Campus Progress.Follow her on Twitter @ebwlevey.