BAJI testifies before the United Nations Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent in New York City about issues impacting our kinship.

Good morning, my name is Carl Lipscombe and I am with the Black Alliance, an organization that advocates and organizes for racial justice and immigrants’ rights on the local and national level, with a specific focus on issues impacting Black people in the U.S., with a specific focus on Black immigrants.

I’m sure as you’ve traveled the US, you’ve heard testimony about the state sanctioned, mass criminalization of Black people nationwide, which manifests itself in the form of over-policing of Black communities, over-incarceration, and a general degradation of Black bodies.

Black immigrants face an extra layer of criminalization at the hands of the US Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Immigration & Customs Enforcement, or ICE as we call it.

Because of a set of laws passed in 1996, when an immigrant is convicted of certain offenses – even minor offenses such as marijuana possession or entering the subway system without paying – they may face detention and deportation. This applies to both undocumented immigrants and lawful permanent residents.

Over-policing of Black communities has made it such that Black immigrants are more likely than their counterparts of other ethnic backgrounds to be transferred to ICE custody and detained because of an offense. Moreover, Black immigrants are disproportionately represented in immigration detention centers and deported at a dramatically higher rate than their counterparts for alleged crimes.

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Combine these challenges with the facts that immigrants are not entitled to an attorney during their deportation proceedings and that ICE can hold an immigrant in detention almost indefinitely while awaiting deportation, and it becomes clear that the US immigration system – especially the experience of Black immigrants in the US immigration system – is unjust & inhumane.

We exist because Black immigrants are invisible within the public consciousness and even within the immigrants’ rights movement, which is white-Latino-centered, as well as the racial justice movement, which is often unaware of the nuanced challenges facing non-citizens.

Our hope is that we can bridge, and build an intersectional movement, that’s committed to abolition, human rights, and transformational solidarity, while fighting white supremacy, anti-Blackness, and global capitalism – the root causes of the problems facing Black immigrants and other oppressed groups worldwide.