May 2013
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Immigration Panel Focuses on Inclusion of Africans
By Criscia Dawson, intern, Office of University Communications

The Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) hosted a forum on the impact of immigration reform in Black America in the School of Business auditorium last month. The discussion, led by Greg Carr, Ph.D., chair of the Department of Afro Studies, focused on the lack of inclusion for immigrants of African descent in the conversations around reform.

While there are more than three million people of African descent living in the U.S., the immigration debate generally focuses on individuals of Hispanic descent.

The panelists included the co-chair of the International Youth Association, Alden Nesbitt, and CBC Taskforce on Immigration Reform co-chairs Rep. Yvette Clarke, Rep. Hakeem Jeffries and Rep. Steven Horsford.

“The United States of America is a nation of immigrants, built on immigrants, for immigrants,” Clarke said. “With the exception of Native Americans, we all have come from other nations of origin.”

The discussion examined the connection between the struggles of people of African descent, presently and historically, and immigration reform. “If you think about the African-American struggle, the current struggle of comprehensive immigration reform can be traced back to the liberation and the fight for full citizenship that African-Americans led in this country,” Jeffries said.

Nesbitt recounted his own family experiences, as they emigrated from Trinidad. “At the age of 21, I got a letter saying I had 90 days to leave the country because of immigration policy,” Nesbitt said. “We paid every fine. We waited in every line. We did everything that we were told to do to be on the path to permanent residency. Because of a broken immigration system, my sister and I ended up being aged out.”

The panelists implored audience members to get involved. “Contact your local representatives and ask them where they are on immigration reform specifically on the topics covered today,” Horsford said. “We need you to put pressure on everyone in the House and the Senate to do the right thing.”

Courtesy of the CBC Staff.
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