UndocuBlack Network: The Dream and Promise Act will give protection to Dream-eligible, DED, and TPS immigrants

March 12th, 2019

For Immediate Release

Contact: Nekessa Opoti | nekessa@undocublack.org | (612) 460-0656

Important legislation to restore and expand immigration protections removed by Trump Administration

Washington, DC - This evening, the House under the leadership of Majority Leader, Nancy Pelosi, introduced the Dream and Promise Act with Reps. Lucille Roybal-Allard, Nydia Velazquez and Yvette D. Clarke, which expands the original DREAM Act, the American Promise Act, and the ASPIRE-TPS Act, from the 115th Congress.  This new legislation called the American Promise Act of 2019 has been entered into the 116th Congress with 203 original co-sponsors.

The UndocuBlack Network welcomes the Dream and Promise Act as a step toward restoring and expanding protection toward Dream-eligible immigrants as well as TPS and DED holders.

Below is the official statement from the UndocuBlack Network:

“This bill is a direct response to the attacks that our communities have been facing from the Trump administration, with the removals of protections for Dream eligible immigrants, TPS holders from 13 countries and Liberian holders of Deferred Enforced Departure (DED).  Make no mistake, this bill is just the beginning of what is owed to immigrant communities.  

In less than 20 days, DED for Liberians expires. We are co-plaintiffs with 15 Liberians suing the Trump administration for its racist termination of the humanitarian program, DED,  which has existed for over twenty years.

Our families and communities are in a constant panic, in fear that they will be targeted- detained and deported. It is within this context that we fight every day for all of us, and the introduction of the Dream and Promise Act is an extension of the legislative solution.

DACA, DED and TPS holders have been protected from deportation for years, and now many have had these protections stripped. We condemn this administration’s removal of protections, work permits and the destabilizing of our communities.  As such, we look forward to the expedient passage of this bill through the House without any added enforcement or poison pills that would further criminalize our communities.


There is a pro-immigrant momentum growing throughout this country and we are hopeful that the clean passage of this bill will prove it.


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LIBERIANS ON DED SUE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION

Families, Community Groups, and Civil Rights Organizations File Lawsuit to Protect Life-Saving Immigration Program

For Immediate Release
PRESS INQUIRIES: nekessa@undocublack.org

March 8, 2019

BOSTON, MA – The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and Lawyers for Civil Rights jointly filed a lawsuit today challenging President Donald Trump’s termination of humanitarian protection and relief for immigrants from Liberia. The lawsuit, the first of its kind in the country, was filed on behalf of African Communities Together (ACT), the UndocuBlack Network, and fifteen affected individuals, including Liberians raising U.S. citizen children. The complaint was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts.

The lawsuit challenges President Trump’s March 27, 2018 decision to terminate Deferred Enforcement Departure (DED), a life-saving immigration program, marshalling evidence of discrimination based on race, ethnicity, and/or national origin in violation of the Due Process Clause and the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution.

Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) is a humanitarian program that protects approximately 4,000 Liberian immigrants in the United States. Over the past two decades, DED was renewed under both Republican and Democrat administrations because of environmental disasters and armed conflict in Liberia.

President Trump’s decision to terminate DED marked an abrupt departure from the practice established by previous administrations. Under DED, Liberians have been able to to live, work, and raise U.S. citizen children.

“The Trump administration’s decision to terminate Deferred Enforced Departure for Liberian immigrants was the direct result of intentional discrimination directed at the Liberian community, runs contrary to evidence, and violates the constitution. This lawsuit seeks to combat the discriminatory and xenophobic immigration policies driven by the Trump administration in order to keep Deferred Enforced Departure recipients and their families together,” said Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “We are turning to the courts to ensure stability for Liberians all across our country who have contributed positively to their communities and our economy, many for over thirty years.”

“This is the latest discriminatory attack from the Trump Administration on longstanding immigration programs. First, they came for DACA recipients brought to this country as children. Then, they came for immigrants of color protected under TPS. Now, they come for Liberians. We will not stand idly by as immigrants of color are threatened with detention and deportation. We will not allow the Trump Administration to trample on our dignity and our constitutional rights. We will resist all forms of discrimination, and we will hold the Trump Administration accountable for attacking Liberian families,” said Iván Espinoza-Madrigal, the Executive Director of Lawyers for Civil Rights.

“At the UndocuBlack Network, we know how it feels to be discriminated against, underestimated even when justice is on our side,” said Patrice S. Lawrence National Policy & Advocacy Director of the UndocuBlack Network. “Consequently, we know how to fight back and win. President Trump set the termination date of the DED program for Liberians for March 31, 2019, negatively affecting up to 4,000 people we know and love. This means we now have days to ensure the stability of Liberians who have been in the country for almost 30 years. We join this lawsuit to challenge the discriminatory intentions of the Trump Administration, and to ensure that our Liberian communities can maintain the ability to thrive.”

"We are suing on behalf of our Liberian DED holder members who have been in this country for decades. They have renewed their status time and time again, been vetted time and time again, and have built their lives here in the United States," said Amaha Kassa, Executive Director of African Communities Together.

As it currently stands, DED is set to expire on March 31, 2019. The rescission of this program will result in the separation of families and harm thousands of Liberians across the country.

Read the full complaint here.

About the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law:

The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, was formed in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy to involve the private bar in providing legal services to address racial discrimination.  Now in its 55th year, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law is continuing its quest to “Move America Toward Justice.” The principal mission of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law is to secure, through the rule of law, equal justice for all, particularly in the areas of criminal justice, fair housing and community development, economic justice, educational opportunities, and voting rights.

About Lawyers for Civil Rights:

Founded in 1968, Lawyers for Civil Rights (LCR) fosters equal opportunity and fights discrimination on behalf of people of color and immigrants. The organization engages in creative and courageous legal action, education, and advocacy in collaboration with law firms and community partners. LCR filed the first lawsuits in the country against the Trump Administration to protect sanctuary cities; to save TPS on behalf of Central American immigrants; and to block immigration arrests in courthouses. For more information, visit www.lawyersforcivilrights.org.



DED holder Yatta Kiazolu Testifies at House Judiciary Committee “I am here for all the working class immigrants on DED, TPS, and are also DREAM eligible.”

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 6th, 2019

For press inquiries: Nekessa Opoti nekessa@undocublack.org | (612) 460-0656

Chairman Nadler, Ranking Member Collins, and members of this committee  thank you for this opportunity.

My name is Yatta Kiazolu, I am 28 years old and I am a beneficiary of Deferred Enforced Departure also known as DED. In addition, I am a PhD Candidate in the Department of History at UCLA with plans to graduate by Fall 2019. After 22 years in the U.S., however, 25 days from now Liberian DED will end and my entire life will be interrupted. I have only visited Liberia once as a toddler and I have never lived in the country.

I am here today to appeal to Congress to create a permanent solution on behalf of myself and the thousands of Liberians who have rebuilt their lives here in the United States.

I was born Botswana to Liberian national parents and arrived in the U.S. at 6 years old in 1997.  My father worked as a professor at the University of Botswana for the United Nations, while my mother was a stay-at-home parent and later worked as a teacher at a local school. We had no other family in Botswana.
   
When my parents made an attempt to move back to Liberia after the first civil war,  in fear of my safety, my mother sent me to live in Georgia with my grandmother, while they assessed the situation. Living with my grandmother in the States provided me security and stability I otherwise would not have known because the fragile political climate soon descended into a second civil war. My mother joined me soon after. In fact, one of my fondest memories at this age was being in a Little League in Decatur, GA where my cousins and I made up almost the entire team.

I have been a recipient of both TPS and DED. If DACA had not been rescinded it is possible that I would have been a Dreamer, as well. The protection of these relief programs allowed me to maintain a stable and healthy life, despite living deadline to deadline.The ability to attend college and graduate from Delaware State University with honors helped me discover my passion for history and higher education. In undergrad, I was an active member of my campus community leading student organizations, joined the public service sorority Delta Sigma Theta, and even completed internships at congressional local offices.

DED made it possible for me to leave the U.S. in 2012, through Advanced Parole, for the first time since my arrival, to travel to South Africa. I participated in the UC Office of the President-HBCU Initiative.  I was thrilled to be able to travel freely with my classmates for once. This program exposed me to graduate education and is the reason I decided to pursue my doctorate in history at UCLA. On campus, I have been a strong advocate of student support, led numerous diversity and inclusion initiatives, and worked as a teaching assistant for undergraduate courses. In my local community, I work to support student access to higher education through tutoring and working as an adjunct instructor.

Nothing I have accomplished thus far would be possible without the unwavering support of my family, who are here with me today. I am here because of the love and labor of my mother, grandmother, and aunties who, when I first arrived, were all working class Black immigrant women. They worked jobs that required them to stand on their feet for sometimes over 10 hours a day in order to protect me and offer me space to imagine, dream, and explore my world as a child should.  Their resilience, hope, and lessons about goodwill inspire my graduate research about histories of Black women’s political activism . My grandmother used to say “When you do good, you don’t do it for yourself, you do it for God.”[pause] And with that philosophy as my personal mantra, though the majority of my family are now permanent residents and U.S. citizens, I am here for all the working class immigrants on DED, TPS, and are also DREAM eligible. I am here for all young people like myself who have anxiety about their futures.

If Congress allows DED to end in 25 days, I do not know what will happen to me. My mother loses sleep at night worrying about me. I want to graduate this year and begin my career in higher education. I am incredibly passionate about teaching history, public history programming, and student mentorship. Through various roles in the classroom over the last five years, I have been invested in the academic and personal achievement of over 200 students, especially those who are historically underrepresented. As a product of dedicated advocates, I want to be able to give back, especially to students who have limited access to higher education. To this end, it is my greatest appeal that Congress create a permanent path to citizenship for DED and similar programs like DACA and TPS.

Thank you for your time,

Yatta Kiazolu



Directly Impacted Immigrant Communities Reject Backroom Dealmaking

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: January 23, 2019

Contact: Jasmine Nazarett, jnazarett@communitychangeaction.org, 954-471-9080; Sheridan Aguirre, sheridan@unitedwedream.org, 202-793-2267; Yesenia Padilla, SBCC,  yesenia@alliancesd.org, 415-269-3178; Nekessa Opoti, UndocuBlack Network, nekessa@undocublack.org,  612-460-0656

WASHINGTON, DC--After news outlets reported that some “immigrant rights groups” would be meeting with President Trump, Vice President Pence and Senior Advisor Jared Kushner on Thursday to discuss the Trump-McConnell deal, national networks representing immigrant rights groups across the country and along the Southern Border, FIRM Action, United We Dream, UndocuBlack Network and the Southern Border Communities Coalition issued the following statement in response:

“The groups negotiating behind the backs of immigrant communities don’t speak for the people actually affected by these policies. For those of us who represent and are accountable to immigrant communities helping Trump to advance his racist agenda is unconscionable.

“One of the Trump administration’s primary goals is to deport and destroy immigrant and refugee communities. Donald Trump took protections away from over one million people by ending the DACA and TPS programs, tear gassed children and put more than 800,000 federal workers plus an unknown number of government contractors out of work. In response to a crisis Trump created, they offered temporary, harmful solutions that walk back protections for children, families and further fund and militarize our borders.

“Now, a group of so-called ‘immigration advocates’ have agreed to serve as the White House’s puppets and help them advance their trojan horse deal. Groups actually representing immigrant and southern border communities are united in calling on Trump and Congress to reopen the government and shut down the racist wall. Together, we will continue to stand with immigrants and will fiercely defend our communities like we’ve been doing for decades.”


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UndocuBlack Network Dismisses Trump’s Disingenuous Deal

January 19th, 2018

For Immediate Release

Contact: nekessa@undocublack.org; 612-460-0656

Washington, DC - President Donald Trump is offering an immoral and shady deal to Congress. In exchange for his pet project, the wall, Trump is proposing that the Democrats give him $5.7 billion.

As part of this deal, Trump proposed that Congress eviscerate asylum and due process policies; increase border agents and immigration judges; and institute unspecified border technology. As a  distraction, he has also proposed to temporarily extend protections for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients and Temporary Protected Status (TPS) holders.

Immigrants continue to face uncertainty, and federal workers have not been paid for almost a month because this administration refuses to do its job. Instead of quickly re-opening the government, they continue to keep the country hostage.

UndocuBlack Network’s National Policy Director Patrice Lawrence says, “This phantom deal is a non-starter because it still includes a wall on the southern border.  Secondly, the proposal suggests long-term, dangerous changes to asylum provisions, immigration court, due process and the immigration system at large. Additionally, “humanitarian assistance” is likely code for more detention centers, exasperating harmful family separation policies.  Finally, the three-year extension for DACA and TPS is a slap in the face for our communities whose protections the Trump administration stole in the first place.”


Trump’s “deal” shows that his power is being threatened. Trump and his administration continue to create chaos: DACA, TPS, government shutdown, the Muslim Ban, asylum restrictions and this #TrumpShutdown are all his manufactured crises.

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UndocuBlack Network (UBN) is a multigenerational network of formerly and currently undocumented Black people that fosters kinships, facilitates access to resources and contributes to transforming the realities of our people, so we are thriving and living our fullest lives.


Democratic Control of the House must be accompanied by bold, vigorous oversight of the Trump Administration: Stand up for Stand up for the Black, Indigenous, Immigrant Communities

November 7, 2018

For Immediate Release

Contact: Info@undocublack.org; 612-460-0656

WASHINGTON, DC - The 2018 midterm elections brought wins for the Democrats gaining control of the House of Congress. Hard work from organizers including many Black and immigrant voices delivered a more inclusive Congress, as well as local and state offices, which will include the first Muslim American and Native American women; more LGBTQ, Black, Latinx and African immigrant representatives.  

Many of these electeds ran on platforms with promises to seek justice denied and thwarted in the past two years and have committed to challenging Trump in the courts on behalf of immigrants and other marginalized communities.  Key changes to state amendments include the passage of amendment 4 in Florida will see the enfranchisement of approximately 1.4 million people in Florida, overturning slavery-era laws.  

“These new members of Congress including the women from Native American, Muslim and LGBTQ backgrounds made history. They were elected with the hope that they will protect the rights of the working class, immigrants and underrepresented populations who are overrepresented in the Trump Administration’s attacks. They must protect the communities that elected them.  Their win tonight must be accompanied with diligent oversight of the Trump Administration. The 116th Congress means time for the Democrats to act and use their newfound power wisely.  We demand that DREAM/TPS legislation be considered within the first 100 days of Congress.”

Patrice Lawrence, National Policy and Advocacy Director, UndocuBlack Network.

“Last night the Democrats regained control of the House of Representatives showing a clear repudiation of the hatred, injustice, cruelty of the Trump’s Republican Party and administration. The American people as a whole are demanding a better country for all of us. A country in which marginalized communities, especially immigrant communities, can live, thrive and exist in this country without fear. We fully expect Democrats to use their newly acquired power to move us closer to that vision and we are ready to hold them accountable if they don’t.”

Jonathan Jayes-Green, Director, UndocuBlack Network.

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Trump Administration’s Evil Proposal on Public Charge criminalizes the working-class  

September 24, 2018

For Immediate Release

Email: Info@undocublack.org


A proposed rule change by the Trump administration egregiously redefines longstanding guidelines on “public charge”. This racist and xenophobic regulation demonizes and punishes immigrants who may access support, fulfilling nutrition, health and housing needs.

Washington, DC - On Saturday night, the Trump administration announced a new proposed rule that would dramatically change the admissibility of immigrants to become lawful, permanent residents in the United States.  The egregious rule is careless and will destabilize immigrants and their families if they or their families may need several life-sustaining health, housing, nutrition, and other assistance.

UndocuBlack Network’s co-founder and director, Jonathan Jayes-Green says, “This ruling effectively criminalizes parents and immigrants for feeding, housing and caring for themselves and their families. It is one of the vilest demonstrations of white supremacy from this administration that wants to radically reduce the number of legal immigrants - particularly Black and brown immigrants - entering this country for years to come. It is another attempt to radically reshape the makeup of this country. As people who believe in justice and freedom, we must fight it until the end.

Below is the official statement from the UndocuBlack Network:

“This recently announced proposed rule change will demonize and exempt immigrants from achieving permanent residency for participation in nutrition, health, housing and other assistance programs. It is the cruelest Donald Trump proposal yet and solidifies what we knew all along: this administration is invested in destroying Black and brown communities.

This proposal, like other Stephen Miller White House policies like the Muslim Ban, ending DACA and TPS, has the same racist and xenophobic motivations. Donald Trump shamelessly seeks to legally codify class and racial discrimination all while lining the pockets of the already wealthy.

This administration is creating an invisible wall, using racist policy and bypassing Congress, to drastically reduce the number of immigrants in this country. However, the oversight will be the masses and we absolutely refuse to stay silent.

Attacks that paint people of color as undeserving when they receive the kinds of help that many low-income to  moderate-income white families receive is a tactic that Black communities understand all too well. 

Punishing immigrants and their U.S. citizen family members builds upon the shameful but effective practice of stigmatizing public programs and the people who need them.

Black communities have learned about the damning ripple effects of racist policies: REAL ID, vote suppression laws, increased police enforcement, increased sentences and mandatory sentencing minimums.

This announcement comes at a time when this administration threatens the future of over 300,000 TPS and DED families and 750,000 DACA recipients. This regulation would obstruct and limit their ability to adjust their status in the future. We expect that millions of Black immigrants and their families will be impacted.

We must fight back with every tool possible to prevent this proposed rule from ever taking effect. There is no power like the power of the people and we intend to prove that while encouraging every ally to do so as well.

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DECISION TO EXTEND TPS FOR SOMALIA DOES NOT GO FAR ENOUGH TO PROTECT VULNERABLE PEOPLE SEEKING PROTECTION

July 19th, 2018

For Immediate Release/available online

Contact: Info@undocublack.org

Washington, DC - Today, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen has announced an extension and not a redesignation of  Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Somalia. DHS has put Somali TPS holders on an 18 month notice. This decision does not include thousands of other Somali nationals that would eligible for TPS and is a continuation of this administration’s closing off the border to people seeking safety and protection.

 

Policy Director for the UndocuBlack Network, Patrice Lawrence said , “We continue to hear heart-wrenching stories from our UndocuBlack family who are devastated by anti immigration policy. The Cold War and America’s war on terror have continuously contributed to the crisis in Somalia. For the American government to turn its government to people who want access to basic needs like food, security and shelter is unconscionable. We needed a re-designation, the conditions in Somalia have worsened since this year and definitely since the last re-designation in 2012. We know that this will cause added instability for several mixed status Somali families who are simultaneously being denied asylum. This is not enough.”

 

Somali TPS holder Ali Abdul who has shown immense fortitude at this really difficult time is devastated for his friends, “While I feel so relieved to know that my TPS got extended, I feel so sorry for my friends who I talk to every night. They will not be able to apply for TPS. I was hoping they would get a chance too, a lot of them still have check ins with ICE and can be deported at any time.”

 

This  administration has demonstrated its hatred of Muslims and Trump has been specifically xenophobic to Somalis. In a couple of visits to Minnesota, a state with the largest population of Somalis in the US, the President has shown nothing but contempt to a group of people who simply want the opportunity to exist. Like everyone of us, they have the right to work, have families and enjoy the freedom to simply be.

 

Like millions of people, Ali is  directly impacted by white supremacist policies. The administration’s decisions are a direct attack on their humanity and continues to create long-term trauma on families.

 

UndocuBlack Network continues to demand a permanent solution for all TPS and DED holders. The next TPS related news will be the expiration of legal status for Sudanese TPS holders which takes effect on November 2, 2018.

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