Submitted to the AFRO by Briana Cardwell
To the Editor:
In “The Crisis of Immigration and the Welcoming of Strangers” you reflected on how the immigration crisis is a call to action. I couldn’t agree more.
My client, “Bella,” a mother from Latin America, fled to the United States to save her life and the lives of her children after an ex-partner threatened to kill them and the police provided no protection.
I am African-American and come from a family of immigrants. I am also a low-income Black person in America. As a student attorney in the Immigrants’ Rights and Human Trafficking Program at Boston University School of Law, I have the privilege of representing Bella. Immigrants and members of the African-American community may want the same resources but they are by no means a threat to one another.
People cross the United States border looking for a better opportunity while many, like Bella, in the most recent immigration wave come fighting to survive. In the last few years, there has been a drastic increase in applications for asylum. Increasing from less than 30,000 in 2008 to over 100,000 in 2018. The caravan of more than 4,000 people who traveled to the Mexico border over the last few months are indicative of this fight for survival. Families like Bella’s are fleeing violence, abuse, and other forms of serious harm.
Like Bella, my family did not want to leave their home country and settling in Boston was not easy. They struggled to find jobs and to fit in. Immigrants like Bella are no different than my family – all of us struggling to stay safe and provide for our families.
As members of a marginalized community it is our job to help and support migration not inhibit it. As an oppressed people we have a duty to uplift and support immigrants as we, African-Americans, have firsthand experience with America’s resistance to our existence in this country.
If migrants had a choice – if they could be safe and prosperous in their home countries – it is unlikely they would come to America. As a people who did not have a choice whether to come to America as well, we have an opportunity to support immigrants who are mistreated like we are, rather than ridicule them in their fight for survival.
Briana Cardwell is a student attorney in the Immigrants’ Rights and Human Trafficking Program, where she is also a second year law student.
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