Image courtesy of United We Dream
Editorial Note: As the clock ticks down to midnight, Friday, January 19, before which Congress must pass legislation to keep the federal government open, negotiations continue and legislative proposals are being floated to provide a bipartisan and permanent solution for Dreamers. Since September, when President Trump declared an end to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, 800,000 Dreamers brought to this country as children have been living in fear, not knowing what their future holds. Please call your members of Congress now and tell them to support passage of the Dream Act. Dial 1-855-764-1010.
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As the fight to address the status of Dreamers and individuals with Temporary Protected Status (TPS) continues, we caught up with Nana Brantuo, policy manager for the Black Alliance for Just Immigration, to talk about the importance of Black voices at this critical time.
BAJI, founded in 2006 in response to the repressive immigration bills under consideration in Congress at that time, again finds itself working to ensure the voices of the almost 13,000 Dreamers and the more than 50,000 with TPS from Africa and the Caribbean are heard in this debate.
For Nana this work is also personal. She is the child of immigrant parents. Her mother is from Sierra Leone and her father from Ghana.
NEA EdJustice was able to catch up with her between organizing and activism to get her perspective on Black immigration in America and on the possibilities for action in 2018.
NEA EdJustice: How do you see Black immigrants engaging in this movement at such a critical time?
Brantuo: We really opened up a dialogue about our similarities and different experiences as immigrants. I got the feeling of how unstoppable we are together, and honestly I look forward to more actions. It’s obvious that we will have to continue this fight throughout the Trump presidency.
Younger Black immigrants recognize that their voices have been missing from the conversation on immigration rights, so they’re creating their own spaces. They’re lifting up their experiences on social media and in school. Being Black and an immigrant is a uniquely challenging yet uniquely beautiful experience. As a young Black immigrant, you’re are at the intersections of so many identities, many of which are marginalized. They’re recognizing the need to be in community and solidarity with people who share their experiences.
Black immigrants have been in this country for a long time. Our needs intersect with African Americans, Muslims, Asians, and the Latinx community. We touch on every group that is marginalized within American society.
NEA EdJustice: The immigrant rights community organizers were really busy at the end of the year trying to get Congress to address the issues of Dreamers and those with TPS. What was your takeaway from that experience?
Brantuo: My experience at the day of action in December was wonderful, beautiful and motivating. The Asian American-Pacific Islander Immigrant Rights Table and UndocuBlack did an amazing job of organizing. We really opened up a dialogue about our similarities and different experiences as immigrants. I got the feeling of how unstoppable we are together, and honestly, I look forward to more actions.