Black immigrants to rally at Capitol for reform

Hundreds of black immigrants from Africa, the Caribbean and Latin America will rally outside the Capitol and visit congressional offices on Wednesday in an effort to put a more diverse face on the debate over comprehensive immigration reform.

The demonstration, which also will include African Americans who support overhauling immigration laws, is intended to highlight specific issues--including wage discrimination, high unemployment and family separation--that are particularly acute in the black immigrant community, organizers said.

The rally, titled “Black Communities for Immigrant Justice,” will take place from 11:30 a.m. until 1 p.m., followed by visits to the offices of some Congress members, including the bipartisan Senate group crafting a comprehensive immigration bill. The group has invited several Congress members to speak at the gathering, although it is not clear how many will do so.

Among the groups organizing the event are Clergy United to Save and Heal, the NAACP and the Service Employees International Union.
Of the nation’s estimated 11 million illegal immigrants, the vast majority are Latino. About 1 million are Asian and 400,000 are estimated to be black, according to recent studies.

The Senate group is expected to unveil its immigration proposals next month, including a path to citizenship for undocumented workers that would take applicants about 13 years. The bill also is likely to contain a new guest worker program for foreigners and changes to the family immigration system that could make it more difficult for foreign brothers, sisters and married children of U.S. citizens to enter the country.

Opal Tometi, a coordinator for the Black Immigration Network, said in a statement: “We’ve seen an attempt to reverse the gains made by the civil rights movement through the anti-immigrant movement, and now it’s time to put a decisive end to the regressive politics that only further disenfranchise and criminalize communities of color. The time for full citizenship for all is now.”

David Nakamura covers the White House. He has previously covered sports, education and city government and reported from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Japan.

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