By Nyame-kye Kondo
Special to the AFRO
Members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) made a trip to the Mexican border, Nov. 21, to investigate the treatment of African and Caribbean immigrants who are being held by American immigration and customs.
The action is in response to the death of Cameroonian immigrant Nebane Abienwe, an asylum seeker who suffered a brain hemorrhage at the Otay Mesa Detention Center, and died from complications of the hemorrhage after being transported to Sharp Chula Vista Medical center a week later.
Although Abienwe had been non responsive for some time prior to his death, his family asked that he not be removed from life support; but their request was denied.
Determined to bring awareness to the plight of African immigrants being held by ICE, the CBC aims to pull back the shroud and make plain the ill treatment of African and Caribbean migrants whose hardship has been all but overlooked in the midst of this crisis.
“Thousands of African and Caribbean immigrants who immigrate to the United States of America are treated as if they are invisible,” said CBC Chairwoman Karen Bass, according to CBS News Channel 8 in San Diego. ” Many arrived in South America and then walked north, all to be dehumanized and mistreated at our southern border. We are heading to the border to hear what they have been through.”
For years the mistreatment of immigrants at the U.S border has been protested, but the African/ Caribbean presence has not been at the forefront of the fight. With Abienwe’s death being one of seven that occurred this year under ICE’s watch, the CBC’s visit is an important step toward understanding what is happening in these camps that is causing innocent people to lose their lives.
The CBC held an official hearing in San Ysidro on Nov. 22, where they called witnesses who work closely with African and Carribean immigrants at the border.
“The shelters tell them ‘we don’t know how to handle Black people,’” said Nana Gyamfi from the Black Alliance for Just Immigration. “They take their children to school, they tell them ‘we don’t know how to teach Black children’ somehow as if Black people are an alien human that they can’t deal with. It boils down to rank racism.”
Some of the representatives, such as Rep. Yvette Clark (D- New York) reacted to the testimonies and sights at the border.
“To see what is taking place in the 21st century should make all of us sick.”