That’s the message handwritten in French and Spanish on a protest bannerat a tent city here in the southernmost tip of Mexico.
The tents belong to some 250 African nationals who crossed jungles, forded rivers, sneaked across borders and dodged militias and thieves to get here in hopes of eventually reaching the United States. But now they are stuck, because Mexico has denied them the travel visas necessary to proceed north.
When I read or hear stories about the current immigration crisis on the U.S. southern border, the word “cacophony” frequently comes to mind: an “unpleasant mixture of loud sounds,” as one dictionary defines it.
The same dictionary then provides a list of synonyms: bedlam, clash, commotion, salvo, thunder, and uproar.
Another 200 migrants were rescued on the Mediterranean Sea on Wednesday, this time as they attempted to make the crossing from Morocco into Spain. These migrants from sub-Saharan countries, traveling in three boats, are the latest in the all-too-familiar story of Africans who travel through Libya and other nations, desperately seeking to reach Europe, even as the European Union crafts policies to prevent them from crossing the sea.
The same principle is at work along the southern border of the United States, where immigration policies and enforcement under President Donald Trump have become increasingly draconian.
About three weeks ago, Bourama Sidibe and John Bol Ajak were driven to New York City by a Syracuse basketball team manager to secure a visa that would enable them to travel to Italy with their Orange teammates.
Sidibe, a native of the African nation of Mali, carries a 5-year student visa, which enables him to stay in the United States until its expiration date. But to travel anywhere outside the U.S., Sidibe needs to secure a visa. Ajak, who came to America by way of South Sudan and then Kenya, is governed by the immigration laws of South Sudan and his case apparently was complicated by his restrictive immigration status.
When Fahmo Abdi and her family immigrated to the United States from Kenya, they lost contact with all of their loved ones. While living in a refugee camp, Abdi’s mother decided to move her family to the United States in search of a better life. “She knew she had to work hard to provide for us and [for] her family back home,” Abdi recalls.
A Kenyan doctor who was recently deported from the United States now needs help get back to the country. Alexander Ondari, jetted back to the US in a bid to complete his last year as a resident physician at the University of Texas on July 6 but was denied entry to the country.
His unfortunate predicament has prompted him to send an urgent plea to the US embassy in Nairobi to intervene on his behalf.
With the Trump administration’s hardline and heartless immigration policies — starting with the 2017 rescinding of DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) for young immigrants already in the U.S. and continuing with the 2018 family separation policy under his so-called “zero-tolerance” approach at the U.S.-Mexico border — the focus has been on brown people escaping poverty, gang violence, and state terror in Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador. But there are also tens of thousands of African, Caribbean, and African diasporans entering the country by plane that are also trapped in the morass of Trumpian hardline immigration policies.
Amadou Sow, 49, a Mauritanian national, stands in the doorway of his apartment in Lockland, where his family has lived for 13 years. Immigration and Customs Enforcement arrested him Aug. 22 but inexplicably released him July 12 after almost 11 months in detention. (Photo: Albert Cesare / The Enquirer)
The subject of migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border conjures images of people from Latin America, particularly Central America, who are fleeing poverty and violence. However, the dynamics of migration into the U.S. are changing. Increasingly, many migrants crossing the border are from nations in Africa and the Caribbean, particularly Haiti, making asylum seekers and the border a Black issue as well.
President Donald Trump’s stance on immigration could hardly be less welcoming. During the 2016 presidential campaign, he pledged to build a wall across the entire southern border, deport all undocumented immigrants, and restrict legal immigration—including instituting a “complete and total shutdown” of Muslims entering the United States. He has yet to deliver on the most draconian of these promises, but there’s no denying that his administration has made border security and immigration enforcement top priority
Until the United States establishes and articulates clear rules, the crisis at the border will continue.
By David Frum
A 25-year-old man from El Salvador tried to swim with his daughter across the Rio Grande to Brownsville, Texas. Father and daughter were caught in the current, and drowned. Their bodies washed ashore on the Mexican side of the river, in an image that has seized the attention of the world.
Sylvester Owino is a small business owner in San Diego, California. His family owns Rafikiz Foodz — an authentic African food vendor offering “Kenyan food for your soul,” using fresh ingredients from the local farmers market. Those who encounter Owino’s welcoming personality are not aware what happens once he is done working for the day. A convicted felon who robbed a shop, Owino is fighting to stay in the United States through an asylum case that has lasted nearly a decade.