The fight for immigrants’ rights just got stronger and more inclusive. This week, Black Lives Matter announced a six-point plan to combat systemic racism. Among them is a call to end all deportations.
While this isn’t the first time the group, which started in 2013 as a hashtag, has discussed issues around immigration, it’s the only time BLM has developed a deliberate plan on the matter. In demanding an "end to the war on Black immigrants," the group will specifically tackle immigration raids and deportations and fight to ensure that all immigrants have access to an attorney prior to being before a judge.
Since its inception, BLM’s primary focus has been the policing of Black bodies, an issue not so different from immigration battles.
“When you think about deportations and immigrants in detention it’s really under the banner of mass criminalization,” Carl Lipscombe, who helped draft the plan as a member of the Black Alliance for Just Immigration (BAJI), told Fusion. “The issues impacting immigrants are the exact same issues that impact Black people in the United States.”
A growing number of Blacks in the U.S. are foreign-born, many of them from Latin America and the Caribbean, and they encounter the same unjust immigration system as Latino immigrants from Mexico and Central America, who have become the face of the movement in recent times. However, the proposal alleges that Black immigrants are nearly three times more likely to be detained and deported for criminal offenses.
The fight for immigrants’ rights, much like the one against police violence and mass incarceration, impacts all people of color, and, as such, should be battled together.
“This could serve to build a bridge between the Black Lives Matter movement and the immigrant rights movement,” Lipscombe said. “Immigration is an issue that affects us all in one way or another.”
Still, anti-blackness among the immigrants’ rights movement could make for some unnecessary difficulties.
Jonathan Jayes-Green, the Afro-Latino who co-founded the Undocublack Network, says “anti-blackness has played a role in the mainstream immigrant rights movement,” one reason why he aims to "blackify" the narrative through his organization.
For Lipscombe, it's important to see the immigrants' rights movement as a racial justice one that impacts all people of color, rather than one defined by nationality.
“We really need to look holistically how any reform of the immigration system can benefit all immigrants,” he said.
BLM's agenda also calls for reparations, reallocating money for policing into local restorative justice services, economic restructuring, community control over institutions responsible for protecting and serving them and protecting Black political power through voting rights, net neutrality and more.