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Kevin De León Snubs Black Immigrants, Declines to Participate In L.A. Mayoral Forum

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Los Angeles – BAJI, the Black Alliance for Just Immigration, has announced that candidates for Los Angeles mayor have agreed to participate in the first candidates’ forum focused on the concerns and issues of Black immigrants.  Participants include Karen Bass and Gina Viola.  Mike Feuer had previously agreed to participate but has since dropped out of the race and endorsed Bass. Immigrant rights activist Kevin de Leon declined to participate.  Rick Caruso was not invited due to his anti-immigrant and anti-Black positions.

“Given his reputation as a champion for Immigrant rights, we were disappointed that Councilman De Leon declined our invitation to speak with leaders of the Black immigrant community at this forum,” said Nana Gyamfi, Executive Director, Black Alliance for Just Immigration. “Black migrants face anti-Blackness in the immigrant rights movement that includes our erasure from the definition of who is an immigrant. We know the Councilman spoke to other non-Black migrant leaders, and we would expect he would take this opportunity to speak with us.”

One in five Blacks in Los Angeles are immigrants or are the descendants of immigrants.  Los Angeles is home to the largest population of Belizeans outside of Belize.  In addition, Nigerians, Ethiopians, Ghanaians, Jamaicans, Haitians and Trinidadians represent the largest (but not only) groups of Caribbean and African Black immigrants in Los Angeles.

According to BAJI’s 2018 report, The State of Black Immigrants, although Black immigrants only are 7% of the total immigrant population, 10.6% are deported due to racial profiling and heightened policing. The report also reveals that Black immigrants are more likely to be detained and deported for criminal convictions, despite years of living in the U.S. and having established strong community ties.

“Black migrants are too often made invisible in discussions about the needs, challenges, and aspirations of migrant communities even though Black migrants face disproportionate harm and barriers due to our Blackness” continued Gyamfi. “These harms include criminalization, detention and deportation, exclusion from benefits, and a lack of access to culturally competent information about County and City relief and services.”


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