Dear Secretary General, Immigration debates, Africans still marginalised There has been reported progress in ongoing immigration debate in the senate however, from the passage of the new Immigration Bill 4437 through the demonstrations and counter proposals from President Bush and both parties in the senate, no mention is made of undocumented Africans especially from sub-Saharan Africa. It seems like Africans south of the Sahara never exist in America
One finds it impossible to understand why inspite of all that is happening in Africa, the AIDS issue which was highlighted by US first lady Laura Bush in Africa recently, economic disadvantages; conflicts, the US responsible for some of them Africans are not being treated as a different case. Africans are being treated as if they all walked across the border into the United States and could just walk back or they have a strong presence here and or could be protected by their own kind as their cousins from Latin America.
However this realization is not as painful as the one that, no African Head of State, no African Diplomat or Mission, no African organisation in the United States has been quoted in the news, pleading the case of undocumented Africans with emphasis on some of the afore mentioned issues and in the accompanying write up.
The immigration bill passed by the House of Representatives was racists and inhuman. But thankfully the Senate scrapped some of the inhuman aspects of it. However the proposals being put forward by both the President and the Senate do not seem fair to humanity. These proposals are like a regressive tax with a sole intention, giving privilege to the advantaged as the accompanied write up shows.
Africans would be grateful if you could lead African government representatives here to also plead their case. It was a joy to see people from the Americas organise demonstration but painful to realise that Africans were not really presented in those demonstrations while there were no reports of diplomatic efforts by African Diplomatic Missions to intercede on behalf of their citizens here. Your excellency, pray, please talk to President Bush. He is Republican like President Lincoln who abolished slavery. His father, President Bush sr. sent troops to Somalia, setting a precedent; while his predecessor, President Regan granted amnesty to undocumented immigrants and signed the Martin Luther King jr. holiday law. It is time for President Bush to make his own positive history. Undocumented African immigrants in the US are but a tiny fraction, under 5 percent of the total population of the immigrants concerned Please talk to First Lady Laura Bush who was in Africa recently highlighting some heartbreaking statistics about the AIDS problem on the continent. Talk to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, she knows the problems; talk to Colin Powell, a trusted person. Also please talk to Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, a doctor who spent sometime in Africa and knows at first hand the issues. Minority Leader, Senator Reid, Senators Obama, McCain, Kennedy and Graham who are in the forefront of this issue should understand the African problem. It is different from that of the other continents especially the Americas.
Africans are humans too and deserve consideration just as their brothers and sisters from other continents who are established in the US as they need help most but their population here is negligent. Attached, please find a write up that should remind you about the situation in Africa and why you need to lead this charge as your final boon to the African continent.
Hoping for a favourable action
Kafui Selasie African
cc African US Diplomatic Missions. African UN Member States
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice Black Congressional Caucus
Majority leader, Sen Bill Frist Minority Leader, Sen. Harry Reid
Senator Robert Kennedy Senator John McCain
Senator Barak Obama Senator Linsey Graham
The Holy See CACAAP
IOM The Press
Africans still marginalised on immigration agreements
The senate has reportedly reached some agreements on the immigration issue yet those agreements as reported still treat Africans as if they do not exist or, just came across the border into the United States like their cousins from down south of the US. The agreement that is making headway seems to be the one that will repatriate to their countries of origin, undocumented immigrants in this country for less than 5 years but, gives consideration to those who have not lived in the country for that long. The agreements seemed to be all about immigrants from Latin America, mainly Mexico. Nobody thought about Africans, their continent, war ravaged, disease ridden, economically bankrupt.
A continent ravaged by wars and diseases, reasons to migrate African immigrants in America may have the most demanding reason for migrating to America. A disease ridden and economically bankrupt continent even with the successes being chalked in South Africa Namibia and Botswana ; a continent ravaged by war, with the US having a hand in almost all the strives in Africa; upheavals that have helped wreak havoc on the land. United States Development Agency, reported on its website, http://www.usaid.gov/locations/sub-saharan_africa/, that, sub-Saharan Africa had just over 10 percent of the world?s population, but more than 60 percent of all individuals infected with HIV/AIDS lives in the region. There are now 24-28 million living with the virus in the region, the website added. Meaning, 6 out of 10 people living with AIDS in the world will die in Africa. Considering the cost of treatment, the poverty rate and complications from other diseases, this figure could well double itself. First Lady Laura Bush emphasized the AIDS situation on her recent trip to some African countries.
This grim predictions have already come to pass in parts of East Africa where whole villages have been wiped off and the lucrative businesses in the surroundings affected are coffin makers and allied businesses. Africa?s total GDP of about 2.09 trillion dollars, is less than that of Mexico and Brazil combined and just a little over twice that of Mexico?s GDP estimated at 1.006 trillion. Information available from the www.migrationinformation.org/ showed that Mexico with such economic power sent in more than 57 percent of the people concerned whereas, sub-Saharan Africa with its 53 countries with such negligent economic power sent in lest than 5 percent of the total immigrant population to America. It is difficult to understand why the Senate is not being fair to everybody and seemed to make an agreement that does not consider important factors as listed above.
For every black African person in the US struggling to make it, there are at about 5 or more direct dependants as well as a host of other indirect dependants back on the African continent. The extended family system, a system which includes distant relatives, friends and the community, obliges everyone connected to the system to take an active interest in the development of the people. Anyone who has a little more than enough is usually obliged to share. Senator Clinton captured a part of this practice in a saying she learned from Africa that, "it takes a village to raise a child". Creating a situation that would displace a significant number of Black African bread winners here, will further worsen an already crippling condition. The immigrants here work hard to send money back to their folks at home; remittances which are but a tiny fraction of what would be paid back to the western countries to service debts. The administration wants to send back undocumented African immigrants literally to their doom and dashing the hopes of Africans on the continent who depend on them for livelihood.
Tipping over the melting Pot The United States, an amalgamation of races; a the powerful melting pot has seen a flow of immigrants sometimes unregulated and inundating. It appears that, in a bid to regulate the flow into the melting pot, instead of adding more of the inadequate ingredients and checking the overflowing ingredients, the "guardians" of the pot want to just tip the pot over. This action will only tip the scales further in favor of some races while putting at a disadvantage, a race that is already disadvantaged not only in America but worldwide. From a 20 percent population in the first census of 1790, the Black African population declined steadily to 12 percent. In 2003, it was announced that the main minority in America was now Hispanics. Clearly they mustered their numbers to demonstrate in support of their siblings when it mattered. Information available from the website, www.migrationinformation.org/ showed that Latin America accounted for 80 percent of undocumented immigrants to the US in 2002, with Mexico alone accounting for 57 percent. Asia accounted for 10 percent, while Europe and Canada contributed 5 percent. Africa and other countries accounted for only 5 percent of undocumented immigrants, the website indicated. Still, this new immigration bill categorizes all the races as one, akin to a very regressive tax system. An already dwindling African American population bears the brunt of unwanted statistics like high AIDS infection rate, high crime, high poverty rates; and high prison to population ratio. More African Americans will die of diseases, crime and natural causes than their counterparts from other races. It would make a lot of sense to add the African immigrant population to the black population to account for the shortage. It would surely not balance the races, it would not give the black population any advantage but it would help the black race be better competitive with other races.
The added population would help temper that anger of the American black population as they not mostly did not experience the sometimes raw and subtle racism as experienced and being experienced by their African American siblings. It would also be helping the mother continent because more Africans would have legitimacy to go back and help strengthen democracy in their various countries. Sending them back in such a wicked manner will only further breed anger and hatred towards America. It will also fit into the propaganda preaching of those who hate freedom and democracy and want to hurt the free world by any means. It would provide fertile grounds for recruitment by unwanted elements of the world.
Interfere in Africa in the name of security
History has shown that Africans have been determined to improve their lives on the continent, but it is difficult to make progress when the western world especially the US keeps interfering in African affairs in the name of security. No part of the continent has been free from interference. Some Coldwar battles were fought in Africa between then USSR and the US. From West Africa to Southern Africa, the western world especially the US has its signature written on most major upheavals and instability on the sub continent; some so subtle it would take more than just an observation to see it. Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana, one of the most progressive black leaders was overthrown with CIA help. Thus the CIA helped in setting the country back economically, politically and socially as, that country which was championing independence and freedom for Africa became unstable until recent years in history.
However in East and Central Africa Siad Barre of Somalia and Mobutu Sesseko of Zaire, both corrupt leaders who misruled their people were backed by the US which helped perpetuate their rule until popular uprisings overthrew them from power.. The senior Bush once called Mobutu , a friend of the US. This was the same man, who had more than 5 billion dollars in assets and bank accounts while his country owed about that much in debts. Samuel Doe and Charles Taylor of Liberia, brutal dictators were all favorites of the US in their hey days. Charles Taylor escaped from a US prison under very questionable circumstances to wage a bloody campaign that plunged the West African sub-region into further chaos. His bloody war and rule in Liberia has directly affected more than three countries and indirectly, the whole sub-region. The apartheid government in South Africa was backed by the US for a long period while the US also backed UNITA rebels who sometimes poisoned water ways in Angola killing children and adults. The US mainly took these actions in the name of security.
Furthermore, of all the continents represented in the US, it is only the people of sub-Saharan Africa that have suffered the humiliation of slave trade thus taking away a chunk of its most valuable natural resources, people. Modern subtle racists do not want to hear anything about slavery and its effects. This new immigration agreement would have had a positive and humane look to it if it considered racial inequities. The US needs to show a real genuine effort in assisting African countries back on their feet not send the bread winners back home in a bid to solve a problem that should be tackled in a strategic manner not holistically. Mass deportations of Africans has already began. Many of those deported were involved in criminal activities but a significant number were innocent or people proven to be innocent later but had already been deported.
Honoring the memories of Martin Luther King, and Correta Scott King; and Rosa Parks ?
Four American president and an aspiring one, the patriarch of a civil rights family, speaker after speaker at Coretta Scott King?s funeral; all had one theme in their addresses, racial equality, freedom and justice for all regardless of race, creed or color. This theme had ran through the speeches of speakers at Rosa Parks funeral. Yet this is agreement being sought does not seem to honor the memories of these great Americans. If the agreements become; all of a sudden a group of people would be stranded, they could be declared criminals. Some of these people with soot face and bodies accompanied with heavy accents and who did not just walk across the border but mostly flew here legitimately on visas and bought expensive plane tickets could be challenged by anyone, notably people of the Aryan race. One only needed to be reminded about the activities of the Kuklux Klan and allied groups devoted to the extermination of the black race to imagine what could happen to black Africans should this agreements become law come.
Amnesty to Africans not on a silver platter
African immigrants need to be granted amnesty but not on a silver platter. They should be fined. Proceeds from the fine could go directly to black neighborhoods, offer scholarships, help build libraries Katrina victims etc. These immigrants should also pay huge processing fees to help pay the cost of the extra work and personnel for the departments concerned. They are already mostly engaged in occupations that mainstream Americans especially whites do not want. Otherwise, their skills have been employed in sciences and the arts where they are needed. They mostly do Direct Care in the Health and Human Service fields and a few other areas that their services are needed. They are hardworking but are not a threat to American employees competing for jobs. Besides, most of them have plans of going back to the mother continent. This bill would only drive them underground but amnesty would uncover a lot of talent and skills that could be of service to the nation. They make good soldiers and intelligence and as the nation stretches its military personnel thin on the Iraq war, this group who are not afraid to serve in the military could be tapped. They already have a stellar record in the military and civilian work places as hard workers.
In one smooth motion, President Bush would have done within a short period, what Karen Hughes, his new PR person has been attempting to do since her appointment. President Bush senior in his last days of his presidency, sent troops to Somalia as a goodwill gesture that resulted in disaster. However, the good intention was what mattered in troops to Somalia on humanitarian grounds. President Bush is not up for re-election and this is the time for him to leave a landmark to his presidency.
It should not be difficult to sell this to the American people if the statistics are highlighted and the US points out that it is high time it directed some of its focus on Africa which has been neglected. This, with the explanation that some of America?s activities on the continent especially during the cold war helped worsened the situation and the fact that, less than 5 percent of the immigrants concerned are Africans who are bread winners for hopeful people back on the continent should convince the American people.
Positive points to consider in granting amnesty
Documentation: Undocumented Africans would be properly documented. They will provide information on the pattern of immigration, countries and regions of originations. Their sectors of employment in the economy. They would become part of the tax regiment providing money to the coffers of the nation and various states of abode legally. Recruitment into the military and as Humint: They could be a source of recruitment into the Armed Forces and Intelligence Agencies. Black Africans make good soldiers and there is no institution that provides equal opportunities like the military because of the sheer discipline and camaraderie in those institutions. The intelligence agencies could also look out for potential recruits from these people who would now reveal their real identities and legitimate qualification and qualities. They will make good analyst and good field intelligence officers More Direct Economic Empowerment of Africans: The remittances of these immigrants back home which are a but a tiny fraction of debt services by African countries go directly to families and friends. Thus remittances which are usually are free of government interference; especially corrupt governments go directly to the intended recipients. Help temper the anger of Black American men: A debatable but important theory. The colleges are now seeing as much as a ratio of 6 enrolled black women to a black man. Meaning, for every six black women that may graduate from college, only one black man would accompany them. It is not difficult to see the reason why this anomaly exists if one has lived in Africa before and seen what black women do on the continent. They carry their babies on their backs and till the land with their husbands. They balance firewood on their heads and walk long distances with their babies on their backs. Once home, their husbands generally rest while these women who put in the same amount of energy on the farm prepare food. Most modern African women still have to go back home from the office to do all the domestic stuff and raise the children. African women have an inner strength with which they bear pain and suffering in silence while working towards their goals. It is easy to see where the African American woman inherited her strength from and relies on it to gain in the midst of the injustices around her. The African American man on the other hand sees the injustices around him and wants to confront it. The system which is built against him, gets him. The result, high prison population, high violent death rate and high school drop out rate. The African immigrants especially men who grew up in a different system and have not experienced the injustices of the American system are better conditioned not to revolt violently against the system. There is a chance they would help temper that "anger" of blackmen, especially by setting good example .Thus the system would have more free black men setting good examples for emulation.
Gaining trust and friendship of America: America will gain a lot of trust, friendship and praise from the African continent by this move. It would show genuine sincerity. It would be one of the most effective single positive acts towards a race that has always been at the receiving end of negative activity.
Exporting democracy helping to establish Democracy on the continent: This move means more people can genuinely go back to their countries to strengthen democracy and the American way of accountability to the people. It means more people can go bak to the mother continent legitimately without fear of prosecution to propagate to the people directly what has made America, freedom of speech, association, openness etc. Establishing an alternative to reparations argument: It must be noted that all these interference and black white relationship started centuries ago when the soot faced people of Africa trusted and treated pale faced visitors in the usual friendly and welcoming manner that is still being practiced today but were betrayed. African people still trust "modern day slavery masters" who betray them and rip them off. While reparation and restitution arguments may or may not yield any positive results, granting Africans amnesty in America is a definitive obvious action that would yield positive result. America would not be giving them hand outs. America would be offering them opportunities to fend for themselves. If implemented as a program over a period of time, it could offer a productive and working alternative to the reparation and restitution arguments that has so far gone no where. Replenish a dwindling black population in America: From a 20 percent of th total population to just 12.3 percent with all the negative indications showing against it. The Black population stock would have been replenished by their siblings from Africa that are already here.
A productive Preemptive strike: This would be a real and positive preemptive strike that should take the wind out of many African American type civil rights actions for a long time to come. Potential negative effects of the bill Running people underground: Illegal Africans unlike their counterparts cannot just cross the border on foot and be in familiar territory. Unlike their white skinned counterparts from Europe, they could easily be unidentified. They would go underground and resort to harmful illegal activities for survival. This would create
more documentation problems and may resort to desperate measures if the authorities close in on them.
Creating enemies of America: Knowing that America bears some responsibility for the situation created on their home continent, a move as spelled out in the bill would force illegal Africans back home and breed anger and hatred towards America. They could become easy targets for recruitment by unwanted elements of the world that hate democracy and freedom.
Sending Africans to their doom: Africa with its more than 53 countries sent less than 5 percent of immigrants to the US while Mexico alone sent more than 57 percent. Mexico and other Latin American countries account for about 80 percent of total US immigration. ?Africa?s total GDP of about 2.09 trillion dollars, is less than that of Mexico and Brazil combined and just a little over twice that of Mexico?s GDP estimated at 1.006 trillion. More people will die of AIDS, poverty and other diseases than any part of the world. Why send Africans back to their doom instead of helping them out?
Action that could spark racists action: To really understand this point, one should go back to the race lynching and racists attacks days as experienced by blacks at the hands of white supremacists and whites who just wanted to have a little adventure by killing black people. More subtle racist actions in which racists authorities could arrest anyone on false charges knowing it would not be challenged. It is already happening. To the patrons of ghanaweb, below are the fax numbers of some African diplomatic missions, organisations and politicians concerned. These numbers are public numbers and it is the best way to contact them, by fax. Please copy the article and the letter and fax it to the various numbers listed' especially f you reside in teh US. Also please, this is a bi-partisan issue and also more interracial even tough we know Africans deserve more. Although this is racism all over again, our Latino cousins also deserve the best under the circumstances so let us be diplomatic in our rejonders. African missions to the UN African Union (212) 319-7135/6509 Angola (212) 861-9295 Botswana (212) 7251846 Ethiopia (212) 754-0360 Ghana (212) 751-6743 Kenya (212) 486-1985 Liberia (212) 687-1035, Mali : (212) 472-3778 Mozambique (212) 644-5972/0528 Namibia : (212) 685-1561 Nigeria (212) 697-1970 South Africa : (212) 692-2498 Uganda : (212) 687-4517 United Republic of Tanzania (212) 682-5232 Zambia Telefax: (212) 888-5213
International Organisations to the UN IOM (212) 867-5887
African Diplomatic missions to the US Angola 202-785-1258 Botswana (202) 244-4164 Ghana: (202) 686-4527 Kenya(202) 462-3829 Black Congressional Caucus (202) 225-1512 Senators Majority Leader Bill Frist (202-228-1264) McCain (202) 228-2862 Minority Leader, Harry Reid : 202-224-7327 Kennedy 202-224-2417 Obama 202) 228-4260 Sec of State 202.647.3655 UN Secretary General spokesman 212-963-7055 African missions to the UN Namibia 202-986-0443 Nigeria (202) 775-1385, (202) 362-6541, (202) 362-6552South Africa 202-265-1607, 202-265-1607, 202-265-1607 Tanzania 202-797-7408 Uganda 202 726-1727 The Holy See 212) 370-9622The Office of the Permanent Observer to the United Nations Tel: (212) 681 7000 Fax: (212) 867 5887E-mail: [email protected]