The migrant crisis on the nation’s southern border has been front-page news for several weeks. The Trump’s administration policy of separating families, who try to come into the country illegally, has only exacerbated the problem and created a public relations nightmare.
The majority of the migrants are Latino, but this is an issue that some black activists have taken up.
Rev. Shane Harris, a San Diego civil rights activist, has visited a migrant detention center on the border. He described it as a “prison.” Harris also feels that this is an issue that the black community should care about.
In an interview with California Black Media, Harris called the policy of separating families “unbiblical.”
The Trump administration’s anti-immigrant stance is also beginning to affect other groups such as the Haitian community. The government has rescinded Haitian refugees’ Temporary Protected Status. This means thousands of Haitians, who came to America after the 2010 earthquake, could be repatriated to a country that is still unstable. The government is also threatening to send Yemeni refugees back to a country facing a civil war.
However, Earl Ofari Hutchinson, a Los Angeles-based political analyst and radio show host, said that not all African-Americans are sympathetic towards migrants. There are some tensions between Latinos, who are now the nation’s largest minority group, and African Americans.
“Blacks are divided on this,” said Hutchinson. “Civil rights leaders across the board have demanded justice for the immigrants, blasted family separation, and denounced Trump for what they call his repressive and inhumane immigration policies.”
“However, many Blacks are wary of the issue. They feel immigrants do take jobs from Blacks, are viewed much more sympathetically than Blacks, and are given kid’s glove treatment in the courts and in the court of public opinion. Comments have been mixed on my show along the lines above,” he said.
But Hutchinson said the migrant crisis is a moral issue.
“It’s a humanitarian and civil rights issue. African-Americans not only have and should have a special sensitivity to this issue, but it’s also being self-protective. The violation of any groups or individuals human rights always poses a direct threat to Blacks,” said Hutchinson.
Micah Grant, a Republican and member of the Natomas school board, agreed with Hutchinson’s stance.
“Anytime there is human suffering, we should be concerned,” he said.
He said the Trump administration seems to have gone for a quick fix to a very complex problem.
“The Trump administration needs to ask if it is compounding the problem,” he said.
The administration is already trying to walk back its family separation policy and return children to their families. According to Department of Homeland Security statistics, the government has only returned 57 of 103 children under 5. Recently, U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw ordered a temporary halt to deportations of reunited families.
According to Grant, not all Republicans are on board with the president’s harsh immigration policy. Grant said he had talked to “compassionate conservatives” who are looking for a fix to the immigration problem.
“We understand the positive contribution immigrants make to our country,” said Grant, who comes from an immigrant family.
Grant also added that the problem of people seeking refuge from violence is a much bigger problem that needs international cooperation.
“We need to work with other countries,” he said. “We need to help people who are seeking a better life.”