UAO aims to serve as the African Community Resource Clearinghouse wherein constituents gather, access information, share experiences, exchange views, and coordinate organizational capacity development. UAO's hub of resources on this website is intended to assist community members in navigating services, programs and resources that are available to help them cope better in the United States.
On April 16, 2013, UAO Executive Director Alie Kabba held a lecture at the American Islamic College on “Advancing Social Justice and Opportunity: Perspectives on Immigrant Activism and Civic Engagement”.
Lecture Details (provided by American Islamic College):
As the US Senate deliberates on key elements of a comprehensive immigration reform bill that President Obama has promised to sign into law, the fate of the nation’s estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants is now squarely in the domain of public discourse. The journey from the shadows to full inclusion in the fabric of our democracy is a story of immigrant mobilization, engagement and, ultimately, integration as part of the quest to build a more perfect union. The immigrant rights movement, like the civil rights movement, has played a critical role in the struggle for social justice and equal opportunity for all. Drawing on recent experience in Illinois, this lecture will highlight the dynamism of immigrant activism to achieve significant public policy victories at local, state and national levels.
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On Tuesday, April 16, 2013, the Gang of 8 Senators released a proposed CIR bill that would cut the Diversity Visa Lottery program in 2014.
The Diversity Immigrant Visa Program makes 50,000 diversity visas available annually, drawn from a random selection among entries of individuals who are from countries with low rates of immigration to the United States.
In 2011 alone, 24,000 out of the 50,000 allotted slots were granted to African immigrants; 48%.
The program accounts for the most African admission as legal permanent residents apart from refugees and U.S. citizens’ petitions for immediate family members.
Programs like the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program are essential to underrepresented nationals who seek to emigrate to the United States.
In an article by NBC Latino, the bill eliminates the backlog for family and employment-based immigration, which for some amounted to more than a 20-year wait. But a big shift is the transition from a family-based unification system to a merit-based immigration system. For example, 18 months after the legislation is enacted, a legal resident or citizen can no longer sponsor adult siblings. The new bill would restrict “immediate relative” to children and spouses of those allowed to become lawful permanent residents.
CITIZENSHIP FOR THE UNDOCUMENTED:
NBC Latino also notes that the bill provides a path to citizenship for the nation’s approximately 11 million undocumented immigrants as long as they entered the country before December 31, 2011. Undocumented immigrants without serious criminal convictions have one year — though that may be extended — to apply for Registered Provisional Immigrant Status (RPI).
This would allow them to be in this country legally, work for any employer and travel outside of the United States. While RPI confers legal status, it does not make individuals eligible for public benefits, including healthcare, under the Affordable Care Act. The costs to apply for RPI status are a $500 fine, assessed taxes and application fees. After six years in RPI status, another $500 fee will be applicable.
A significant aspect of this bill is that an applicant’s spouse and children can be sponsored at the same time under the same application. There is no provision in the bill for same-sex couples, though a person familiar with the negotiations said that a DHS directive could be added if there are changes following a Supreme Court decision.
After 10 years, a person with RPI status will be eligible for a green card provided they have worked regularly, paid taxes, learned English and civics, and paid a $1,000 penalty. After three years with a green card, they can apply for citizenship.
Dreamers can get their green cards in 5 years, and will be eligible for citizenship immediately after that. Under a new AgJOBS Act, undocumented farm workers who have been working in the U.S. would be eligible for an Agricultural Card, and if they pay taxes and a $400 fine, they and their spouses and minor children can adjust to legal permanent resident status.
The bill addresses the issue of families who have been separated through deportation. Undocumented immigrants who had been deported for non-criminal reasons but who had been in the U.S. before the end of 2011 can reapply to re-enter and apply for RPI status, if they are the spouse of or parent to a child who is a U.S. citizen or legal resident, or a Dreamer eligible for the DREAM Act.
FIGHTING FOR INCLUSION:
There is still time to fight for programs like the Diversity Visa Lottery and family petitions. If you are concerned about this proposed bill, we STRONGLY URGE YOU to speak up and voice your opinions to your member of congress to insure that families stay together.
HAVE YOUR VOICE HEARD!
The African Youth Forum, held on March 30, 2013, brought together youth to discuss important issues affecting our communities and provided a space for engagement and interaction.
The Know Your Rights Project led a workshop on Incarceration and the Prison Industrial Complex. Dr. Horace Hall of DePaul University challenged the audience on Racism and Education. The Immigrant Youth Justice League informed attendees about the challenges and fight for Immigration Reform and the work of undocumented youth.
Performances by Umuada Ure dance troupe of Umu Igbo Alliance, the drumming ensemble, W.Side Story/AfriCaribbean Connections ofAfter School Matters, and rapper B1Swagger made the event even more memorable.
The Forum challenged youth from diverse backgrounds, whether native-born or immigrant, to be advocates for change and build bridges through dialogue.
UAO would like to extend a special thank you to thevolunteers, Brown Sugar Bakery, Bryan Echols, and Chioma Anigbogu for making the event a success!
For more information on how to get involved with the African Youth Forum, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
On Friday, March 22nd, UAO and allies participated in a protest and civil disobedience to demand the Gang of 8 to produce a bill on comprehensive immigration reform (CIR). One day later, UAO hosted it’s African Community Forum on CIR and how the proposed removal of the Diversity Visa Lottery Program would negatively affect future African immigrants to the United States. Here are photos from our actions!
(Click each photo to see full album)
The Obama Administration and Congress are working on a bi-partisan effort to pass comprehensive immigration reform. But what does it mean for your community?
You are invited to our African Community Forum to understand how immigration reform affects you, your family, and friends!
Saturday, March 23rd
2:00 pm – 4:00 pm
IIT Tower Building, floor 6
Chicago, IL 60616
Get information | Ask questions | Raise concerns | Share your story
It is FREE and open to the public. Seating is limited.
For more information, call us at: 312-949-9980
MPI President Sketches Vision for Pragmatic U.S. Immigration Policy Reform in American Prospect Magazine Cover Story
WASHINGTON — In the cover story in the latest edition of The American Prospect magazine¸ Migration Policy Institute President Demetrios Papademetriou tackles some of the major challenges Congress must resolve if it is to create an immigration system in the national interest — now and for the future.
The article, The Fundamentals of Immigration Reform, also provides an overview of the policies, politics and errors of omission and commission that have created the antiquated, inflexible immigration system that the United States has today.
Among the failings: the “false promise” of family reunification for all but the closest relatives of U.S. citizens; five- to nine-year wait times for international students with advanced degrees to gain a green card; and the rise of illegal immigration, with the resulting flattening of wages for immigrant and native-born workers alike in low-wage sectors.
“Because immigration amounts to social engineering, how well we do it has profound consequences for huge swaths of our society, from education to health care to economic growth to foreign relations,” Papademetriou writes in the introduction.
The article, which calls the current immigration reform frameworks advanced by a bipartisan group of senators and the White House “nothing short of audacious,” urges consideration of key fundamentals beyond those being publicly discussed, including:
- Creating risk-management models to accompany the full implementation of an entry-exit system to detect visa overstays. Such models would, over time, supplement the visa judgments of U.S. consular officials and lead to better decisions about who should be admitted to the United States in an expedited way and which applications merit closer scrutiny.
- Providing the integration services that assure the economic and social integration of newcomers and their children, perhaps funding these services in part through the fines that unauthorized immigrants eligible for legalization would have to pay or tapping the Earnings Suspense File in which Social Security withholdings that cannot be credited to valid Social Security numbers are kept. These could be used to create a fund that states would access to assist those awaiting legalization to meet the English proficiency and civics requirements contemplated under the legislative proposals.
- Inclusion of flexible selection formulas to ensure that the various visa categories adjust to meet the nation’s strategic priorities.
- Allowing the administration to propose changes to the immigration system regularly to address small problems before they become large ones. The changes would take effect unless Congress rejected such proposals.
“It is important to acknowledge that we won’t get everything right … and that no perfect answer exists to some of the immigration problems we face,” Papademetriou concludes. “So why not seize the opportunity that the political winds seem to be giving us, experiment with some of the solutions technology offers, consider ideas that other countries have tried with much success in order to address one of the biggest social, moral, and economic challenges of our time?”
He ends: “When successful, immigration systems choose who should be admitted rather than ratifying the decisions of immigrants, their families, and their employers. The latter has been the U.S.’s main experience with immigration for nearly 50 years. It is time for legality, orderliness, and values to be again at the heart of our immigration policy.”
Papademetriou, who is a former director for immigration policy and research at the U.S. Department of Labor and former chair of the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Migration, co-founded MPI in 2001.
Read the article at: http://prospect.org/article/fundamentals-immigration-reform.
The Migration Policy Institute is an independent, non-partisan, non-profit think tank in Washington, D.C. dedicated to analysis of the movement of people worldwide. MPI provides analysis, development and evaluation of migration and refugee policies at the local, national and international levels. For more on MPI, please visit www.migrationpolicy.org
“Human rights are women’s rights – and women’s rights are human rights. Let us not forget that among those rights are the right to speak freely – and the right to be heard”. Hillary Rodham Clinton, an advocate for gender equality, emphasized this point during her historic 1995 speech at the Beijing’s women’s conference. Since then, we have made major strides in seeking justice and equality for women around the world.
The international community must continue to uphold this commitment to ensure that the rights and freedoms of women and girls remain protected and that violence against women eliminated.
Today, March 8th 2013, marked International Women’s Day. There is much to celebrate in the global mission to promote gender equality and the advancement of women. The 2013 agenda for UN Women, an agency of the United Nations, has put emphasis on 1) elimination and prevention of all forms of violence against women and girls; and 2) the equal sharing of responsibilities between women and men, including caregiving in the context of HIV/AIDS. Most recently, the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) passed in the U.S. House of Representatives on February 28, 2013. This symbolizes a crucial breakthrough in the quest for justice and ending violence against women.
Why is this a victory for women’s rights? Here are 5 reasons:
- New provisions will help Native American and Alaska Native women access justice.
- New provisions help immigrant women in the U.S.
- Nondiscrimination provisions help lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) survivors of violence.
- Inclusion of the Trafficking Victims and Protection Act (TVPA).
- Reauthorization of VAWA will ensure that millions of survivors be able to access critical social programs and legal services to help end violence.
Throughout recent history, progress has been made in protecting the rights of women and girls. In 1979, the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) by the UN General Assembly generated the international pledge to end all forms of discrimination. Following CEDAW, the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action (PFA) of 1995 sought to accelerate the implementation of strategies for the advancement of women including enhancing participation in public and private decision-making. In 2000, the UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security acknowledged the importance of increasing women’s role in decision-making in regard to conflict prevention and resolutions. The Millennium Development Goals, created in 2002, outlines ambitious action plans to eliminate gender disparity in all educational levels by 2015.
These documents listed above have guided international movements in transforming the status and rights of women. VAWA is a great victory for women’s rights in the U.S. To quote U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice in her address to the U.N. Commission on the Status of Women, “All women and girls have a fundamental right to live free from violence and fear”. Yet, 1 in 3 women are still victims to physical and/or psychological abuse, or are coerced into sex. Not only is creating laws vital to ending violence against women, but increasing accountability and enforcing these laws is essential. Empowering women and girls also includes acknowledging their reproductive rights and access to reproductive health services.
International Women’s Day is a catalyst to encourage dialogue surrounding women’s rights around the world; however, the discussion must continue throughout the year. Use today to reflect and celebrate past and future accomplishments that empower women around the world. It is our responsibility as a global community to stay committed to ending violence against women and protecting their freedoms. This requires comprehensive support services for victims, improved measures to prevent assault, justice for offenders and a common understanding and respect for the fundamental rights of women and girls by all community members.
We are moving in the right direction, but must keep the momentum going. It has become seemingly apparent that when women succeed, nations become safer, successful and more ethical. Let the voices of women and girls be heard. Remember, human rights are women’s rights and women’s rights are human rights.