For Black Immigrants Here Illegally, A Battle Against Both Fear and Historic Discrimination

Makeda Easter, Los Angeles Times, January 8, 2018

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There are approximately 575,000 black undocumented immigrants in the U.S. By comparison, there are more than 1.4 million Asians and more than 8 million from Mexico and Latin America, the largest group of people in the country illegally.

When angry debates blow up in online forums and social media about illegal immigration and President Trump vows to crack down on it — including by building a “beautiful wall” — there is little question about which immigrants are front and center: Mexicans, and by extension, many from Latin America.

This sense of constantly being under political siege has created fear, but also a large network of activists and politicians who advocate, not exclusively but most obviously, for the large number of Latino immigrants in the country illegally.

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According to the Black Alliance for Just Immigration, black immigrants make up one out of five immigrants facing deportation on criminal grounds even though they make up only about 7% of the noncitizen immigrant population.

Zack Mohamed, an organizer for the alliance, said he is trying to counter a narrative that illegal immigration is overwhelmingly a Latino issue.

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Patrice Lawrence is a coordinator for the UndocuBlack Network that invoked the term “driving while black,” which is used to describe the racial profiling of black motorists. But she said the feeling is magnified if you’re black and in the country illegally.

It’s like “the fear that you would have if you were to drive and you forgot your wallet at home and the cops pull up,” she said. “Except some of us feel that same level of anxiety every single day.”

In addition to the fear of deportation, black immigrants face the same systemic racism that has plagued blacks in the U.S. for years.

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