Pan African Unity Dialogue Issues Call for Immigration Reform

NEW YORK – August 20th, on the occasion of the commemoration of the birthday of the Honorable Marcus Mosiah Garvey, the New York area based Pan African Unity Dialogue released A Call for Action on Immigration Reform: Advancing the Interest of People of African Descent.

Convened by the Institute of the Black World 21st Century, the Pan African Unity Dialogue (PAUD) is a periodic gathering of leaders from the Continental African, Caribbean American, Afro-Latino and African American communities that seeks to strengthen relationships and collaboration among people of African descent in the United States and globally.

A primary goal of PAUD is to advance and protect the interests and aspirations of people of African descent. Over the past several months PAUD has engaged in discussions on one of the most controversial issues affecting the Black community – immigration policy reform. Because many Blacks perceive immigration reform as a “Hispanic issue” which threatens their interests, PAUD is committed avoiding the “us against them” strategy employed to divide and exploit people of color. Therefore, the group commissioned a task force to develop a document to address the concerns and interests of people of African descent. Dr. Waldaba Stewart, Chairman of the Caribbean Research Center at Medgar Evers College, was appointed to chair the task force.

After months of meticulous research, community forums and input from organizations and leaders in PAUD, Dr. Stewart presented the Document to the Special Session of PAUD. It lists the concerns of five sectors of the Black community: Small and medium sized farmers of African descent and legal farm laborers in general; Persons of African descent residing adjacent to and/or in communities in which groups of immigrants reside; Para-Professionals, lower management and trained professionals including teachers and nurses; Legal Residents and Citizens who sponsor relatives; Community leaders, religious leaders, local political leaders and advocates for a just immigration system. Specific policy recommendations are offered for each sector.

The Document was well received. New York State Senator Bill Perkins, who attended the meeting, responded to the presentation by pledging to push for the implementation of recommendations from the Document at the state level.

In his remarks, City Councilman Robert Jackson listed immigration reform as one of the top five policy priorities for his district. And, in a passionate address, Congresswoman Yvette Clarke urged PAUD to enter the immigration reform struggle to add the voices of people of African descent.

After minor amendments suggested by PAUD participants, the Document will be circulated to local, state and national civil rights/human rights leaders and elected officials, including the Congressional Black Caucus to be used as a framework for including the interest of people of African descent in the debate and formulation of immigration reform legislation and regulations.

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