Some African immigrants see their hopes for a better life in the US dashed by a new immigration plan – Baptist News Global


Among the African community, different reactions have continued to follow the debate in the United States Congress on the Build Back Better Act. The concern is due to the less noticeable provision on immigration.

Reports show that $ 100 billion is earmarked for immigration reform in the law, with a plan to help certain categories of undocumented immigrants in the United States obtain work permits. Those who benefit from the plan are immigrants who arrived in the U.S. before 2011 but do not have legal work permits.

Fears that Congress’s passage of the law will end or wait for the original plan of Democrats in the House of Representatives to include in the draft, through budget reconciliation, the path to citizenship for millions of undocumented immigrants in the country, estimated at more than 11 million .

This was a key part of President Joe Biden’s election promise during the 2020 presidential race. Biden hoped to become the second leader, since Ronald Reagan in 1986, to amnesty undocumented immigrants in the country. As a result, among the immigrant community in the U.S., which consists of people of different nationalities, little hope has risen.

However, since becoming president, Biden’s plan has failed to make progress in a closely divided Congress.

However, since becoming president, Biden’s plan has failed to make progress in a closely divided Congress. Efforts by Democrats to include it in the draft Senate proposal were rejected by Senate MP Elizabeth MacDonough.

Plan C

What eventually overcame the hurdle was the smallest of the proposals, called “Plan C”, which, unlike Biden’s original plan, was limited to securing work permits and no road to citizenship. Rejecting the first two proposals, MacDonough described a series of proposed amendments to the Immigration and Citizenship Act as a major policy change that “significantly outweighs the budgetary impact of that change”.

Now, many Africans who were initially happy with Biden’s promise and hoped for better days, but do not fall into the category of people to be favored in Plan C, are ruining their destiny. One of them, a Nigerian based in Houston, who arrived in the United States six years ago, told BNG that the outcome disappointed him because he had long hoped for Biden’s promise.

“This is not what they promised. What I heard Biden promised was citizenship. ”

“I’m not happy. This was not what they promised. What I heard Biden promised was citizenship. Then it’s suddenly over. It’s sad,” said the man, who asked for his identity to be protected because of the precarious situation.

Another African also described the outcome as “unexpected and painful”. The end result, he said, only showed that “politicians are not people to be trusted.”

These views represent the position of Africans across the United States on the adoption of the law. Like many other continents, Africa has its share of undocumented immigrants in the United States, many of whom have arrived in the country in search of a better life. According to the Institute for Migration Policy, it is estimated that there are about 295,000 unauthorized Africans living in the United States. However, most unauthorized immigrants come from Mexico, Central America and South America, the Caribbean, Europe and Asia.

Making a living the hard way

Many undocumented immigrants, in an attempt to survive, end up working in various jobs or earning a living the hard way. In the process, some complain that employers are taking advantage of them. This is what the Nigerian quoted above was looking forward to escaping through Biden’s promised amnesty.

“With a work permit, I could find a better job and avoid the discrimination and racism I experience in my workplace,” he said. “I could contribute more to the American economy by paying taxes and having a sense of belonging. These are things that have occupied my mind for a long time and that I thought would change until the turning point. ”

“With a work permit, I could find a better job and avoid the discrimination and racism I experience in my workplace.”

A 2018 New American Economy report citing the U.S. Census Bureau on African migration to the U.S. (which includes both legal and undocumented immigrants) states that “more than three out of four African immigrants over the age of 16 are actively in the workforce.” which means they are either working or actively looking for work. In other words, African immigrants are more likely to contribute to the U.S. workforce than to be disabled, sick, or still in school. The rate of participation of African immigrants in the labor force is much higher than that of the population born in the USA (62.6%) and the total population born abroad (66%). It is also larger than other groups of immigrants, including Asian and Latin American immigrants. ”

The plight of the Cameroonians

However, before the current version of the Build Back Better Act, some Cameroonians in the US called on the Biden administration to grant them temporary immunity and stop the deportation of their citizens to Cameroon, a practice they said has been going on since the Donald Trump administration.

In an article published last month, Lynn Tramonte of the Interfaith Immigration Coalition said “Trump administration ICE officials used pepper spray, suffocation, WRAP torture and other forms of violence to forcibly deport Cameroonians, Congolese and other African refugees to countries. “and that the Biden administration continues to pursue Trump’s policies, sending people to death, torture and indefinite imprisonment – instead of using its executive branch to protect them in the United States.”

Cameroon’s call for presidential immunity came days after more than 200 organizations made up of human rights, labor, humanitarian, social and racial justice groups sent a letter to Biden asking for US-based Cameroonians to be granted temporary protected status or delayed forced departure to protect them from discrimination or deportation.

“Deporting people into precarious conditions and into the hands of their persecutors is cruel and deadly.”

In recent years, Cameroon has been embroiled in a conflict involving secessionist fighters from the southern part of the country who want to secede from a bilingual country. This occasionally led to conflicts with government forces, which led to the death and destruction and forced displacement of people from the Central African country. For this reason, many Cameroonians and groups like the Cameroon Advocacy Network feel it is unfair to bring people back there.

“Deporting people into precarious conditions and into the hands of their persecutors is cruel and deadly. This cannot be justified by any administration, much less one that claims to value human dignity and wants to ‘build better’, ”Daniel Tse told CAN. “Cameroonians feel that nowhere is it safe to turn around and that fear is really unfeasible.

“People who used to lead full, comfortable lives are now like walking ghosts, the threat of deportation is always above their heads. But we also know our rights and our value as members of the human family. Stopping deportations to Cameroon and designating the country as temporarily protected are two urgent, reasonable steps by the Biden administration [should] take it today to give priority to restoring dignity and protecting black migrants, ”he said.

More was expected

Reacting to the current version of the Build Back Better law, Yasin Kakande, an American journalist and migration expert, said that while the gesture was good, much more was expected.

Yasin Kakande

“It is certainly better than nothing to give long-settled immigrants the opportunity to work legally and live without fear of deportation in the United States, but for policymakers, especially Democrats who have advertised themselves as immigration reformers and advocated a revised immigration system, that is not enough He said.

While migration remains a divisive issue in the U.S., and many support or oppose the idea of ​​helping immigrants settle legally in the country, Kakande says undocumented immigrants are a strong pillar of the U.S. economy today.

“During the COVID-19 pandemic, undocumented workers were at the forefront as basic workers in nursing homes, hospitals, shops and industries,” he said. “Basic home services and care for patients who are among the most vulnerable to the virus are made possible mainly by the cumulative efforts of immigrants and refugees who have come to the United States. Our political leaders would be wise to acknowledge this and afford the necessary legalization for immigrants who are already here to work without fear of criminal action or deportation. ”

At this point, while many immigrants, amazed by the developments, have given up hope of President Biden’s promise of amnesty, others, as one of them said, are simply “watching and praying,” hoping something good could still come from of the expected final Build Back Better plan.

Anthony Akaeze is a freelance journalist born in Nigeria who currently lives in Houston. It covers Africa for BNG.

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