Barely a year has passed since the arrival of the Trump administration into the White House, yet a myriad of issues have already ensued with the introduction of multiple unjust policies and legislation. But one of the most criticized policies passed by the administration would have to be the ending of DACA- Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, a program that protects undocumented immigrants who moved to the U.S. as children from deportation.
USAIG had the pleasure of attending African Voices: DACA, a panel hosted by the Black Studies Program at the City College of New York, featuring several guest speakers including Amaha Kassa from the non-profit organization African Communities Together. The speakers covered a variety of issues ranging from the DACA program and the effects of its removal on the African immigrant population, to the intersection of Black Lives Matter and issues affecting African Americans with the struggles that African immigrants face.
The Effects of the Obama Administration on African Immigrants
One of the highlights of the panel was the discussion on the necessity to pressure our politicians to stop treating issues plaguing African immigrants as an option instead of a priority. Guest speaker Yasmin Yonis touched on the reality of the Obama administration, which increased the funding of policing and deported more immigrants than any other president.
The effects of these policies have resulted in the militarization of the police force in the U.S., as well as the further stigmatization of illegal immigrants who have been painted as criminals. Of course, these effects have now been worsened by the hate-filled propaganda perpetrated by the Trump campaign and his subsequent election.
Unity Among The African Diaspora
The topic of unity entered the discussion as well, with an African-American brother in the audience questioning the tendency of African immigrants to congregate with people from their same country. “What is the point of congregating amongst yourselves”, he asked, “when white people are just gonna see us all as the same?”
But although unity among the African diaspora is crucial, it is just as important to not forget ones roots. Yes, we all have a common racial identity that unites us, but we also come from different countries with drastically different languages and customs. Immigrating to a foreign country is an extremely fragile and vulnerable period in life where ones identity constantly comes into question, and congregating with people from the same country as you can be especially comforting in light of the culture shock.
In times like these, unity among the African diaspora is crucial. Guest speaker Afua Atta- Mensah reiterated the idea of unity in a time where white supremacy would continue to triumph by dividing us. White supremacy does not want African immigrants and Black Lives Matter to unite- white supremacy continues to flourish by perpetrating division among blacks everywhere.
Thus, it is crucial for us to unite and pressure our politicians to prevent the unjust ending of the DACA program, and this panel will hopefully prompt more discussions regarding the intersection of Black Lives Matter and issues facing African immigrant population.