The Black Alliance for Just Immigration, BAJI, is calling on lawmakers to halt the mass deportation of Haitian and Somali immigrants living in the United States.
BAJI, a grassroots organization that mobilizes and empowers Black immigrant communities, has launched a campaign bringing attention to the precarious situation that immigrants from both nationalities face.
Re-designation of Temporary Protected Status, TPS, for Haitians residing in the United States is scheduled for May 23, 2017. If the protective status is not granted, some 50,000 Haitians will be stripped of their work authorization and prioritized by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, ICE, for deportation.
ICE is also in the process of deporting over 4,000 Somalis residing in the country, Ahmed Isse Awad, Somalia’s U.S. ambassador, told the San Francisco Bay View. The Department of Homeland Security, which is tasked with providing information about mass deportations, has yet to release details about pending removals within the Somali community.
For BAJI activists, the deportations spell disaster for those fleeing precarious situations in their home countries.
“The pending deportation of Somali immigrants is a matter of ethics and morality,” Opal Tometi, executive director of BAJI, told the San Francisco Bay View.
“The current state of affairs in Somalia – a nation that has dealt with decades of political instability and is currently experiencing drought and possibly one of the worst famines in history – is one of fragility. To deport such a large number of nationals while the country is faced with issues of national, economic and food security is inhumane.”
Nana Brantuo, BAJI’s policy director, shared similar sentiments about those fleeing disparity in Haiti.
“Considering the current Haitian migrant crisis on the U.S.-Mexico border along with the trials – post Hurricane Matthew – that continues to impede the progress of Haiti’s national development, stripping 50,000 Haitian nationals of TPS status, prioritizes them for removal and raises major concerns around the readiness of Haiti to handle such a large number of deportees.”
Along with pushing for a halt to the deportations of Haitian and Somali immigrants, BAJI also works to shift the mainstream narrative of immigration. The organization regularly hosts workshops discussing the ways in which the immigration system is explicitly biased against Black immigrants in the United States and how to combat systemic violence and anti-immigrant hate.