“As this report shows, Black immigrants encounter major social and economic challenges in the U.S. because of systemic racism,” says Opal Tometi, BAJI’s Executive Director and a co-founder of #BlackLivesMatter.
Notable findings include:
- The number of undocumented Black immigrants in the U.S. increased by nearly 50% from 389,000 in 2000 to 602,000 in 2013
- Despite high educational attainment, nearly 1 in 5 Black immigrants live below the poverty line.
- Black immigrants have the highest unemployment rates amongst all immigrant groups.
- More than one out of every five non-citizens facing deportation on criminal grounds before the Executive Office of Immigration Review is Black.
- Black immigrants are more likely to be detained and deported for criminal convictions than other immigrant groups.
- Black immigrants in removal proceedings for a criminal conviction often have lived in the U.S. for a long time and established strong community ties; many are apprehended and placed in deportation proceedings long after the triggering criminal conviction occurred.
Part I of the report provides recently updated demographic data on immigration status, country of origin, geographic location within the U.S., educational attainment, household income, labor force participation, and eligibility for forms of immigration relief for Black immigrants. Part II focuses on the impact of mass criminalization on Black immigrants providing newly released data on detention and deportation rates for Black immigrants.
The report’s release coincides with the 20th anniversary of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996, one of two laws passed in 1996 that expanded the grounds for deportation to include over 20 criminal and noncriminal offenses. According to the report, these laws have overwhelmingly impacted Black immigrants, who tend to live in communities that are subject to over policing and controversial practices such as “stop-and-frisk” and “broken windows policing.”
Some of BAJI’s policy recommendations include: removing convictions as a grounds for deportation and/or exclusion from the U.S., including aggravated felonies and drug offenses; expanding executive action programs that provide relief for Black immigrants; restoring judicial discretion and due process for all individuals who come into contact with the criminal justice and immigration systems; and eliminating the criminal bars to programs such as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).
According to Carl Lipscombe, BAJI’s Policy Manager and a co-author of the report, “Unfortunately, research on Black immigrants is scant because the government does not maintain data on immigrants based on race. But this report shows that racial injustices are pervasive within the immigration system. We urge the government to improve race-based tracking and expand the overall body of research available on Black immigrants.”
The Black Alliance for Just Immigration is a racial justice and migrants’ rights organization that organizes, advocates, and raises public awareness around issues impacting African Americans and Black immigrants. Learn more about us at www.blackalliance.org