Spotlight on Organizations Supporting Black Immigrants

By Leslie Bary

The list below is reproduced from the Daily Kos, whom I thank. It is Black History Month and deportations of Black asylum seekers are ongoing. I was not aware of all of these organizations, and others might like to know about them as well.

ABISA promotes social and economic justice, civic participation, and empowerment of African immigrants and refugees by building communities that are economically and civically stronger, through advocacy, civic engagement, training, and services.

African Communities Together is an organization of African immigrants fighting for civil rights, opportunity, and a better life for our families here in the U.S. and back in Africa. ACT empowers African immigrants to integrate socially, get ahead economically, and engage civically.

Black Alliance for Just Immigration educates and engages African American and black immigrant communities to organize and advocate for racial, social and economic justice. Local BAJI Organizing Committees in New York, Georgia, California and Florida with staff in Texas and Minnesota, build coalitions and initiate campaigns among communities to push for racial justice.

Black Immigrant Collective is a collective of Black immigrant justice organizers, advocates, journalists, workers’ rights organizers. The collective is committed to amplifying Black immigrants in both racial and immigrant justice.

Black Immigrants Bail Fund, with support of other Black led organizations, provides free assistance and relief to black immigrants in pursuit of Liberation and Justice. Our commitment is to eradicate the mass incarceration of black immigrants and level the playing field of equity in due process; transforming one life at a time.

Black LGBTQIA Migrant Project envisions a world where no one is forced to give up their homeland, where all Black LGBTQIA+ people are free and liberated. We build and center the power of Black LGBTQIA+ migrants to ensure the liberation of all Black people across borders.

Haitian Bridge Alliance is a coalition of Haitian non-profit organizations and community activists who have come together to serve the Haitian community in California and beyond.

UndocuBlack Network is a multi-generational network of currently and formerly undocumented Black people that fosters community, facilitates access to resources, and advocates to transform the realities of our people, so we are thriving and living our fullest lives.”

UN News Release on the Use of Private Prisons

By DWN

Via the Detention Watch Network:

GENEVA (4 February 2021) – A group of UN experts* welcomed the US decision to stop using privately run federal prisons and urged the Biden Administration to also end outsourcing of all detention centres, including those holding migrants and asylum seekers.

“Ending the reliance on privately run prisons for federal prisoners is an encouraging step, but further action is needed,” said Jelena Aparac, Chair-Rapporteur of the Working Group on the use of mercenaries.

“Given the magnitude of mass incarceration in the US, this decision will benefit only the very small percentage of federal prisoners who are held in private prisons and specifically excludes vulnerable people held in migrant and asylum centres who are at particular risk of serious human rights violations.”

The US Department of Justice was ordered on 26 January not to renew its contracts with 12 privately operated federal criminal detention facilities. In 2019, there were about 116,000 prisoners held in privately operated facilities, representing about seven per cent of all state prisoners and 16 per cent of federal prisoners, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics.

The experts urged the US to “eliminate all for-profit detention facilities”, saying that “detainees should not become units for profit”.

The Working Group has regularly expressed concern over the outsourcing of inherent State functions, including prisons and detention facilities. The issues of inadequate standards and grave human rights violations in migrant detention centres have been raised repeatedly with the US government and its contractors on involuntary sterilisations, solitary confinements and violations of the right to healthcare.

(*) The Working Group on the use of mercenaries is comprised of five independent experts: Jelena Aparac (Chair-Rapporteur), Lilian BobeaChris Kwaja, Ravindran Daniel, and Sorcha MacLeod

The Working Groups and Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.

For more information and media requests please contact Khaled Hassine (khassine@ohchr.org) and Sofia Palli (spalli@ohchr.org), or write to mercenaries@ohchr.org

For media enquiries regarding other UN independent experts, please contact Renato de Souza (+41 22 928 9855 / rrosariodesouza@ohchr.org)

The Biden Administration on MPP/the “Remain in Mexico” policy

By Leslie Bary

The president has already walked back one campaign commitment on immigration: his promise that ​“on day one” he would end Trump’s Migrant Protection Protocols (also known as the ​“Remain in Mexico” policy).

Maurizio Guerrero, “Our Next Deporter-in-Chief?” In These Times 45:2 (February 2021): 18-24.

Maurizio Guerrero’s article on immigration policy and the new administration in the February, 2021 issue of In These Times, is worth reading. There is a great deal to be concerned about, as the anti-migrant policies of the past few decades have been bipartisan efforts.

As indicated earlier, another of President Biden’s campaign promises was to end the use of private facilities for immigrant detention. We should hold him to this and to the promise to end the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP)–and to revise 35 years of policy decisions that have accumulated to create the current situation.

Images of For-Profit ICE Detention Centers

By Leslie Bary

The Guardian has published drone images of some ICE detention centers. It’s a rare chance to see them, since visitors are not allowed to take photographs. The Biden administration has ordered the Department of Justice to phase out the use of private prisons, but ICE detention is under the Department of Homeland Security (which, we should remember, was only created this century, after the terrorist attacks of 2001). It is not clear the order will extend to DHS. We should all write and call the White House on this matter.

Volunteer Alert

By LA-AID

January 20, 2021 a new Homeland Security memo went into effect, that could mean the release of some classes of detainees. Detainees should ask their lawyers or the Freedom for Immigrants hotline how the memo may affect them.

If you are in contact with anyone who could be affected, especially if they are detained, please let them know: “DHS just issued a new memorandum about deportations and any detainee should contact their lawyer or call the Freedom for Immigrants hotline (9233# from a detention center) for more information about how it could affect them.” Volunteers should, of course, refrain from giving advice on this and other legal matters.

To join LA-AID or volunteer with us, please fill out this form. At this time (January 2021) we have a special need for pen-pals and letter writers. We are hoping new members will take on a pen-pal, but we have numerous other projects and needs as well.

The FFI Migrant Freedom Home: A Louisiana Safe House

By LA-AID

Freedom for Immigrants has a beautiful safe house in Jena, where we are able to house immigrants released from central Louisiana detention centers, in transit to their new homes elsewhere in the United States. Sometimes family members held in different facilities, and released on slightly different dates, are able to wait for each other there, reunite and regroup. The house is peaceful and even has games and toys for kids.

The Transportation Project

By Nell Hahn

Our goal is the abolition of immigrant detention and we have ongoing projects to that end, but much of our work in the shorter term involves assistance to individual detainees.

From April to November, 2020, we helped 47 people released from detention get to their sponsors or family members in the United States, by picking them up at the detention center, providing a place to stay overnight, giving them toiletries, supplies, and Spanish/English dictionaries (if they speak Spanish), and sometimes phones, and/or transporting them to the bus station. We have assisted many of these to obtain free plane tickets through a wonderful organization called Miles 4 Migrants

We are contacted to pick people up by family members, organizations who pay bond, sponsors, lawyers, and even ICE deportation officers. Our pickups are usually from ICE detention centers in Basile and Pine Prairie, but we have also gone to Jena and have relayed people from North Louisiana centers to airports and bus stations in South Louisiana. 

The people we help are asylum seekers who have been either granted asylum or released on parole or bond to continue their asylum cases while living in the community. In 2020 we worked with people from Mexico, Brazil, Venezuela, Central America, Cuba, Haiti, Cameroon, China, Bangladesh, and Nepal.

Djibril Coulibaly

By Leslie Bary

Here is the story of Djibril Couibaly, awaiting deportation to Mali after 19 years’ legal residence in Louisiana as a French immersion teacher in the school system–and no, the school system does not hire undocumented aliens. This situation is the result of a clerical error that, in a more humane system, could be easily corrected. These are some of the problems LA-AID and related organizations work to combat.