Congresswoman Karen Bass (D-CA) and fellow members of the Congressional Black Caucus took a trip to the Mexican border to discuss the treatment of Black migrants at the border. Their intentions to spread awareness on the topic turned into devastation as they discovered inhumane living conditions for many Africans and Carribeans seeking asylum.
Along with Bass, Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA), Congresswoman Yvette Clarke (D-NY) and Congressman Juan Vargas (D-CA). In Tijuana, they learned about the many individuals existing under these conditions due to the Trump administration and its laws against entry into the United States.
“We have had a very frustrating experience today,” Bass opens the teleconference led by the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA). The four traveled to meet with a group of about 40 Black migrants from Jamaica, Cameroon, Sierra Leone, and various other African countries and shared their experience with various members of the Black press.
Bass explained the circumstances, detailing most who came from the African continent flew to Ecuador, due to them not needing a Visa to enter the country. After a few days, they would walk to the border of Mexico and California hoping to gain entrance into America and a new life.
“The reason why we went is because we had been hearing stories for months about the fact that there are thousands of black migrants, who are on the border, who in this time period when we’ve been dealing with an administration that has led racist and egregious immigration policy; the Black migrants have been completely invisible,” Bass stated.
Alluding to the idea that most people do not even know there are so many Black migrants, the conference call was intended to open the eyes of all. She also speaks on the administrations’ views of immigrants, as they have allowed those from Norway to peacefully enter the country, but deny those of Black and Brown countries.
“Since Trump has in office, he has done everything he could to block that and change those policies to make the united states not compliant with international treaty,” Bass explains referring to the international law that would allow those seeking asylum from repression and distress entrance into the country.
“We need to shed some light on what is taking place here as it relates to African and Carribean migrants,” Lee shared. “They are fleeing violence and horrible circumstances in their country, they go through jungles and experiences, long walks and boats getting a place they thought they would be treated in a humane way … and what has happened is just the opposite.”
“They are totally dehumanized, totally treated in a very racist fashion by all these countries; and once they get here they are stuck,” she continued. Lee detailed there is no real count of how many Black migrants are at the border camps, and that they are treated terribly when seeking medical attention amongst other things while being held.
“This is another example of Trump’s racist policy and when we say this about ‘Make America white again’ in terms of his immigration policy, this is exactly what it is.”
“It’s upon Black America to really rise up and say this has got to stop,” Lee declared. “There are certainly Black America’s who can provide the resources and a lot of the services that are needed in border towns and in Mexico to help these individuals.”
Lee will soon be visiting the UN to discuss these issues, stating, “The UN has very important programs as it relates to refugees and migrants that they need to get on with in terms of Black migrants.”
“I believe that there is not a fair allocation of resources or focus or programs from the UN of what is taking place in Mexico and throughout Latin and Central America.”
“It is really our responsibility to speak for them because there is no one who has a voice that can speak for them other than us,” Clarke stated. “These individuals need us to be their voices.”
“What we recognize is the policy that the Trump administration has put forth is totally illegal. It is not in keeping of the constitution and our people are unfortunately are on the receiving end of a policy that is not legal.”
Nana Gyamfi, the executive director of the Black Alliance for Just Immigration (BAJI) also visited the camps and shared her take of the experience during the call.
“I’m just so moved today and our people were moved,” she said, “you could look in their eye and you could see they finally had a sense of ‘finally we’re looking at people like us who actually care and are showing us not just love but a resolve’ that they heard in the voices of our leadership.”
According to Gyamfi, many migrants look forward to the six-month process that would then allow them entry into America, however, many shared they had been stuck in the border town for much longer. Many are being excluded from what is called the “metering” process which is used to restrict the number of people allowed for asylum.
“Our people are experiencing anti-Blackness throughout this entire system. They can see it and they are naming it.”
Bass explains the metering system, first sharing her beliefs that many Black migrants are in fact, not in the line of those potentially entering the U.S., “how can they be in line when they don’t speak Spanish? There is no translation provided for them, and the metering system is not even run by the Mexican or U.S. government; it is run by other people who are in line waiting for asylum.”
“By seeing this today, you can begin to see how they [Trump administration] are making their white supremacist agenda real and their anti-immigrant agenda real, and how they’re making sure how they living up to their statement about taking their country back again and making America white again.”
“Our community needs to understand that it is people that look like them that are languishing on this border.”