Black and Muslim, some African including Liberian immigrants feel the brunt of Trump’s immigration plans

By Tiziana Rinaldi

 Akinde Kodjo-Sanogo, in New York, is a community organizer with African Communities Together. Since the election of Donald Trump, the group has been mobilizing to offer legal information and assistance to its members, who feel particularly vulnerable in Trump’s immigration agenda. Credit: Tiziana Rinaldo/PRI
Akinde Kodjo-Sanogo, in New York, is a community organizer with African Communities Together. Since the election of Donald Trump, the group has been mobilizing to offer legal information and assistance to its members, who feel particularly vulnerable in Trump’s immigration agenda.
Credit: Tiziana Rinaldo/PRI

“My heart shivered,” says Martins Akinbode-Busayo, 35, a Nigerian health worker who fled his country in 2015. His government targeted him for helping gay people access HIV treatments.

In 2014, Nigeria passed a law that criminalized not just homosexuality, but also the organizations that support gay people. He applied for asylum in New York last year, and is awaiting the outcome of his application. But he felt despair after Donald Trump’s presidential victory.

“It’s sad news for me!” he remembers thinking. “I couldn’t sleep, I worried about what was going to happen.”

Amaha Kassa is an immigration lawyer and founder of African Communities Together, a nonprofit that advocates for the rights of African immigrants. He says he has been addressing anxieties like Akinbode-Busayo experienced many times since the election of Donald Trump.

“African [immigrants] around the country are confused and upset by the rhetoric and the threats,” says Kassa, 43, who leads the group of nearly 2,000 members between New York and Washington, DC. He estimates that several hundred of them are at risk of deportation under a new administration that promised a crackdown, but has said very little about comprehensive immigration reform.

They’re black, nearly half of them are also Muslim and they heard Trump’s campaign promises: He will not tolerate the undocumented and he wants to prevent people from Muslim-majority countries from entering the US.

“They want to know ‘what does it mean for me, for my family?’” says Kassa.

Last year, African Communities Together and the Black Immigration Network, successfully campaigned for one final extension of the TPS status, which will now end in May 2017 for Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. They fear, though, that the program will come under the scrutiny of the new administration.

More about African Communities Together: A hotline fights Ebola-related stigma against African immigrants

Bill Stock, president of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, thinks that choosing not to issue a new TPS to the three countries will provide an early opportunity for the Trump administration to set the tone about limiting discretionary and humanitarian legal immigration programs.

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SOURCE: PRI Online

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About Cholo Brooks 13493 Articles
Joel Cholo Brooks is a Liberian journalist who previously worked for several international news outlets including the BBC African Service. He is the CEO of the Global News Network which publishes two local weeklies, The Star and The GNN-Liberia Newspapers. He is a member of the Press Union Of Liberia (PUL) since 1986, and several other international organizations of journalists, and is currently contributing to the South Africa Broadcasting Corporation as Liberia Correspondent.