The debate for comprehensive immigration reform is alive and well among African-American lawmakers.
Earlier this month, Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-N.Y.) participated in a forum titled “Comprehensive Immigration Reform: Bridging the Gap between African Americans and Immigrants of the African Diaspora” in Washington, D.C. The session was a part of the Congressional Black Caucus’s 40th Annual Legislative Conference.
In short, Rep. Clarke wants the debate surrounding comprehensive immigration reform to include those in the African Diaspora, including Caribbean and African immigrants. Her parents immigrated from Jamaica and she speaks openly about the Caribbean heritage in both her family and the Brooklyn, New York district she serves.
“As the daughter of Jamaican immigrants, my Caribbean-American heritage has been the inspiration for many of my legislative agendas, including supporting the continued assistance in the post-earthquake recovery in Haiti,” Clarke stated.
The Congresswoman feels that her duty to stand up for those in the African Diaspora stems not only from her family history, but from the diversity in her Congressional district. She says that approximately 39% of her constituents were born in another country and range from permanent citizens to undocumented residents.
It was also the lack of discussion of issues from non-Latino immigrants and minority citizens, such as African-Americans, that made Congresswoman Clarke passionate about the topic. She reiterated that there are many issues facing the immigrant community, no matter their country of origin.
Rep. Clarke closed out her statement with an important reminder of the valuable roles that immigrants have played in building and sustaining the United States.
“Let us never forget the immigrants of all backgrounds, who contribute to our society; who come to our shores embracing the American dream; that labor in rebuilding our great nation and strengthen our great nation, as well as serve honorably in our Armed Forces,” she added.