Honoring Black Immigrants During Black History Month

February 18, 2021

This Black History Month, the Arab-American Family Support Center (AAFSC) is proud to stand alongside our partners, allies, and community members in honoring and recognizing Black communities in New York and across country, whose impact and achievements are embedded in the very fabric of our history. This includes Black immigrants and refugees, who, just like other immigrant populations, influence the development of the U.S.

In January 2021, the inauguration of President Biden ushered in a new wave of immigration reform with the signing of multiple executive orders that aim to create a more humane and equitable immigration system. Black immigrants and refugees are an integral part of this conversation on immigration issues and make up a large fraction of immigrants who have been attacked by cruel policies in the past few years, including the now-defunct Muslim Travel Ban, which targeted Muslims from majority African countries, and the rise of black immigrant deportation by ICE, including 72 Haitians who were deported during the first week of Black History Month.

For many Black immigrants and refugees in the U.S., law enforcement and immigration are two sides of the same cruel coin that are built on anti-Black racism. Because of this, Black immigrants are subjected to increased policing and, despite only making up around 7 percent of the non-citizen population, represent over 20 percent of those in deportation proceedings on criminal grounds.

Photograph: Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images

AAFSC is committed to continuing working with our partners to ensure all immigrants and refugees, including Black immigrants and refugees, are protected and remain safe with their families. This cannot happen without swift action from our elected officials. We urge the new federal administration to work quickly to end the wrongful deportations of vulnerable communities, eliminate detention centers that keep families separated, and address the framework of anti-Black racism that the U.S. immigration system was built on.

In addition to our activism, AAFSC is proud to embed Black History Month discussions into our Get Ready initiatives to build bridges between different marginalized communities and honor shared experiences. Like past years, our Readiness Program and Young Adult Programs have prioritized Black History Month conversations, reflections, and activities to ensure our program participants have a holistic curriculum and space to grow as community members committed to social justice.

At AAFSC, we value the connections we have built with Black organizations, elected officials, and community members. Our organization stands strictly against racism, colorism, classism, segregation, homophobiaxenophobia, sectarianism, sexism, ableism, ageism and all other forms of oppression. AAFSC recognizes the importance of allyship and is joining the Movement for Black Lives, LGBTQIA+ community members, and all those who experience othering in solidarity and collective action. We look forward to building on the promising foundation introduced by the new administration that will build a safer New York and United States for all immigrants and refugees.