“Black migrants deserve safety, respect and compassion,” U.S. Yvette D. Clarke, D-N.Y., told theGrio.
House Democrats are demanding President Joe Biden and his administration designate and renew Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for African migrants who face deportation.
In January 2022, Biden vowed to repair the U.S.’ broken immigration system, and in April 2023, he renewed TPS for more than 280,000 immigrants traveling from Nicaragua, Honduras, Haiti and several other countries, according to the Pew Research Center.
Some Democratic members of Congress believe the Biden-Harris administration has not extended Temporary Protected Status fairly and has left out several African nations – such as Nigeria, Mauritania, Mali and Burkina Faso – where migrants have had to seek refuge in the U.S. due to war, natural disaster and disease.
U.S. Rep. Yvette D. Clarke, D-N.Y., told theGrio she is “holding the administration’s feet to the fire on their commitment to equity.”
“That not only means equity here in the United States domestically, but how we treat people on the international front, and how we address the issues that are plaguing and challenging those nations that are seeking to be free,” she explained.
During a press conference last month, U.S. Rep. Glenn Ivey, D-Md., told reporters, “TPS is critical.”
“We need to treat [African] countries like we treated Ukraine,” said Ivey. “There’s nothing unique from that country from the standpoint of the United States being able to provide protection and assistance for people who need to get away from political violence and danger within their country.”
Ivey suggested that expanding immigration opportunities to African migrants goes beyond humanitarian reasons, as they also contribute to American society. The congressman said migrants from the continent living in his district have flourished after receiving Temporary Protected Status.
“They started businesses…they became supportive of the community, they’re making us stronger as a nation and I think it’s important to give them a chance to expand on that effort,” he shared.
Congresswoman Clarke told theGrio that there is a “breakdown” in the U.S. immigration system that doesn’t provide equitable access.
“[The U.S.] immigration system has historically been inequitable and is currently grinding up lives because of its brokenness,” she said. “We have to press even harder for a 21st-century immigration system that centers the most vulnerable coming from the continent of Africa, coming from the African diaspora, seeking refuge and freedom here in the United States of America.”
She added, “Black migrants deserve safety, respect and compassion.”
Gbenga Ogunjimi, executive director for the Nigerian Center and the leader of TPS for Nigeria Coalition, told theGrio that African migrants seeking refuge in the U.S. are not seen as a priority.
He compared the U.S.’ quick response to assisting Ukrainians after Russia invaded the country in 2022 to the country’s lack of response in aiding African migrants fleeing from countries like the Republic of South Sudan amid violence and devastation.
“When the violence and war broke out in Ukraine, the conditions in that country are identical to the countries represented here today,” said Ogunjimi. “Yet it took the administration eight days to grant them TPS, and some of us are fighting just to be recognized for the same level of humanity.
He told theGrio that since the Biden-Harris administration “promised” to protect immigrants, officials should then live up to that commitment.
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