But more sensible voices can be heard across the country and one elected official from Florida continues to speak on behalf of people of all colors who seek a better life on our American shores.
Congresswoman Frederica Wilson, a member of the House of Representatives since 2011, represents the 24th Congressional District in South Florida. Her signature issue has always been education.
However, with a constituency that includes those from Cuba, the Caribbean, Africa and Haiti, and given her maternal parents being from the Bahamas, she also takes the challenges facing immigrants quite seriously.
“There are two issues that we’ve been working on and solved through policy changes and with the support of the State Department: temporary protective status and family reunification,” Wilson said. “Neither came without a battle and great patience. And we’re still trying to pass legislation that’s now pending in Congress that would help secure visas for innocent youth that include children in Haiti and young girls in Nigeria.”
“I have traveled to Africa and to Haiti and have come to know these immigrants as people. This is a life or death issue for them. And very few people running for president on the Republican ticket actually embrace immigrants. When they do, they look to people from Mexico or Central America. That’s the perception that the media tends to put forth to. In truth, immigrants are not just brown.
“In my district, we have a Caribbean basin of Blacks who have immigrated to the U.S. We have people from Haiti – many of whom came after the earthquake. We have a lot of people from Africa. But no one seems to be talking about black immigrants. There’s no catastrophic incident that’s forcing up to pay attention to their daily struggles.”
“But we should. For example, the government in the Dominican Republic has been deporting Haitians – forcing them to leave what has become their home and return to their native country that still has not fully rebounded from the earthquake that took place years ago. People are using fabric, paper, cardboard, whatever they can get their hands on to build makeshift homes. People are boarding rickety boats attempting to get to safer lands and are drowning at sea.”
“Immigration should be one of our major concerns – and it must include Blacks,” Wilson said.
One Miami resident, a Black Cuban and the president of the Democratic Black Caucus of Florida, recently appeared on a Miami-based news show to talk about immigration.
“The conversation tends to be about Mexicans or Venezuelans,” said Henry Crespo Sr. “You rarely see the discussion include those from Africa or Haiti – people who are Black. That’s just absurd. When was the last time you saw a black Mexican, a black Cuban like me or even a black Jew in Israel? We don’t see images of these kinds of people but they certainly do exist and in significant numbers.”
“The U.S. has a vested interest in immigrants from places like Venezuela because of the country’s resources. But because of the poverty that still has most Haitians locked in its grips, they ignore them. Sure, we offered our assistance after the earthquake but soon after we turned our backs on them once more. Immigration is not just about brown people.”