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President Joe Biden recently announced plans to welcome 100,000 Ukrainian refugees to the U.S. even as African and Caribbean immigrants are denied similar humanitarian consideration.
Biden also announced that Ukrainians already in the U.S. would receive Temporary Protected Status, meaning that they would not be deported.
“It’s just clear racism.”
Samah Sisay, a once Liberian immigrant is now an immigration lawyer with the Center for Constitutional Rights. She continued, “There’s this feeling that Ukrainians are Europeans and therefore, the immigration system maybe doesn’t view them as a threat in the same ways we see conversations about Black migrants,” Sisay said. “You see how there is this double standard.”
Across Cultures Immigrants of color Suffer Most. Why?
The double standard has been felt near and far. From Blacks being discriminated against by Ukrainian officials while trying to flee the war-ravaged country to being held in European detention centers without reason, Putin’s War in Ukraine reminds us racism has no borders.
Per NBC News, “last month an alliance of prominent civil rights lawyers from around the world announced it would file an appeal to the United Nations on behalf of Black refugees facing discrimination while trying to flee the invasion.”
Domestically, weeks leading up to the conflict in Ukraine, the U.S. halted deportations to Ukraine, and U.S. Reps. Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass., and Mondaire Jones, D-N.Y., urged the administration in a letter to “extend that same level of compassion” to Haitians in the U.S., which has deported more than 20,000 Haitians since September 2021.
The all-but-predictable fact is Black immigrants are more likely to be deported than immigrants of other races, according to a report from the Black Alliance for Just Immigration. Additionally, bond amounts for Black immigrants to leave detention centers and end family separations are routinely higher than those for non-Black immigrants, the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services discovered.
Because Black communities are far more frequently targeted for arrest and prosecution than the general population, 76 percent of Black immigrants are deported because of contact with police, according to the Black Alliance report.
Sylvie Bello, the founder of the Cameroon American Council, a Washington-based organization dedicated to supporting Cameroonian immigrants and refugees, isn’t surprised at all. “We’ve always known that African, Black people always get the worst of the worst,” Bello said.
Bello continued, “… Every other program within American immigration justice is anti-Black, anti-African. … Why is it that Black pain doesn’t meet restitution and immigration relief?”
“Temporary Protected Status” explained.
Refugees and immigrants with Temporary Protected Status can avoid deportation, obtain a work permit and even travel for up to 18 months. TPS designation is usually reserved for countries in an ongoing conflict (like Ukraine) experiencing a devastating natural disaster, or “other extraordinary temporary conditions.”
While thousands of equally desperate and afraid Black people wait in a TPS line long enough to wrap around the world, Ukrainian refugees skipped ahead of them all in early March when they were granted TPS designation without delay.
However, immigrant advocates have noted that the U.S. has not granted Cameroon TPS designations despite years of pressure, and it only updated TPS designations for Haitians last spring.
For Black immigrants, equality is no guarantee on the world stage.
Immigration lawyer, Samah Sisay concludes, “It’s not people saying, ‘The government shouldn’t be assisting Ukrainian refugees,’” Sisay said. “It’s saying the same level of care that you’re giving to these folks, why is it that refugees, mainly Black refugees and refugees of color, don’t get that same sort of care and attention when obviously they also are in need?”