The fallout over hundreds of thousands of migrants pouring into cities across the United States includes demonstrations with protesters blocking buses and clashes with police, but it is because those coming in are darker, hailing primarily at this time from Venezuela, advocates argue. Various U.S. presidential administrations have had to grapple with the issue of immigration and the “border crisis.” But what is at the root of the current crisis?
The influx of primarily Venezuelans pouring into the U.S. stems from errant U.S. foreign policy, stated human rights Attorney Nana Gyamfi, executive director of BAJI (Black Alliance for Just Immigration). Because Venezuela is a socialist country, it has been the largest provider of housing, food, healthcare, and all necessities for its people using revenue from its oil as an OPEC (Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries) nation.
The U.S. imposed sanctions on Venezuela that other countries like Britain (the United Kingdom and the European Union) and everyone else has joined into. And virtually overnight, Venezuela lost 95 percent of its income and 95 percent of the peoples’ income was gone, stated Atty.
Gyamfi. “So right now, there is none of us that can lose 95 percent of our income and be able to sustain ourselves. … Because the economy was based in oil and now it’s gone, how can anyone live off of five percent of their income?” she questioned, rhetorically.
Before the sanctions, Venezuelans weren’t coming to the U.S., stated Atty. Gyamfi. “Coming here for what?! The country itself was providing these people with free housing, free health care, university,” she stated.
The state of the anti-immigration movement in America is heightened but historically, it is nothing new, according to Atty. Gyamfi and other analysts. At the root is White supremacy and its constant effort to use all the tools that it has to artificially keep White people in positions of power, she told The Final Call.
“What we have is a system in which there has been a racist and cruel abandonment, an intentional racist and cruel abandonment of Black, Indigenous, Brown and Asian people in this country,” Atty. Gyamfi told The Final Call.
Student Minister Abel Muhammad, representative to the Spanish-speaking people of the Western Hemisphere for the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan, concurred. “They want to put the poor brother coming from Venezuela against the poor brother who got here yesterday from Mexico.
And they want to pit both of them against their poor Black brother who was forced here, a few days before they got here to this country,” he stated. The result is these groups then victimizing or blaming each other when in fact they’re only in their conditions because of a common source to all of their pain and suffering, he explained.
“But as long as we continue to hurt ourselves and hurt one another, we will never be able to approach addressing that which is required from the enemy of all of our people. And that’s why they keep us in these really low-level battles, so we never raise our eyes up enough to see that not only do we have a common enemy, but our unity is the only weapon that can and will help us to overcome the opponents and the opposition of the enemy,” continued Student Minister Abel Muhammad.
In Staten Island, New York, 10 protesters were arrested for blocking a bus carrying asylum-seekers in New York City, according to news reports. According to ABC News, Vadim Belyakov, 48, was charged with assaulting a police officer, resisting arrest and obstructing government administration after an officer was injured trying to arrest him, according to police.
“The bus encountered protesters, temporarily blocking its path. Police were arranging an alternate route when the passengers asked to return to The Roosevelt Hotel in Manhattan, which is being used as a migrant intake center. The bus then turned around. The city confirmed to ABC News that the former Island Shores Senior Living Facility will be used as a shelter for asylum-seekers, run by the nonprofit Homes for the Homeless,” continued the outlet.
Meanwhile, in Chicago, where approximately 70 buses have arrived so far in September, adults and small children who stepped off buses on September 27 were greeted with blankets, according to CBS Chicago. However, some neighbors and business owners have expressed that they do not feel safe, according to Yahoo News.
Atty. Gyamfi told of a respite center supporting Black migrants in Brooklyn with 500 people inside. It’s basically a warehouse, and food is not allowed inside, she said. “You can’t bring people inside, and everyone has a scanned arm bracelet. … Every floor has two toilets, which generally don’t work. They don’t have showers,” she said.
Along with not being able to bring food in, the Black people there are Muslims, but they have no halal food, according to Atty. Gyamfi. She further reported that the place is across from projects that house mainly Black people and the rest of the neighborhood is comprised of Puerto Ricans and Dominicans. Authorities placed them there without telling neighbors or council officials; they have no place to brush their teeth or wash, and no food places around them to get something to eat, she continued.
“So, they’re abandoned! There’s nothing to be jealous of there. They are sleeping outside. They have no air conditioning. During the time when New York was super-hot, they were literally themselves going outside. The police are everywhere. They’re routinely getting beaten up by the police. There’s nothing to be jealous of there,” stated Atty. Gyamfi.
At press time, according to CBS 2 News, 1,600 families were staying in police stations across Chicago, a sanctuary city—meaning it will not ask people about their immigration status. In total, nearly 9,000 migrants are staying in 21 temporary shelters, the news station reported. In addition, migrants are also being housed at O’Hare and Midway international airports.
Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson has vowed to continue working hard and come up with a solution that works for everyone in the city. There have been community meetings where residents, particularly on the predominately Black South Side, have expressed frustration and anger on how the city is handling the crisis.
ABC7 Chicago reported that a group of Black homeowners and concerned residents recently voiced their frustration over the city’s handling of the migrant crisis.
“The group believes funding going towards migrants would be better spent on existing residents of the South and West sides. They’re calling on city leaders to shift their attention and dollars to struggling Black neighborhoods,” the news outlet reported.
“It is not that people who seek assistance shouldn’t receive it, but why is there a preference now, when for generations the issue has been that there are not enough resources, yet now they’re building a tent city here at the cost of $29 million for the new migrants who are coming,” Student Minister Abel Muhammad stated.
“People are coming into a system that was not designed to care for our people, and finding that they, too, are not cared for and so there’s a notion that you have people that are coming in and they’re taking this and they’re taking that and of course, people are upset because they feel abandoned,” stated Atty. Gyamfi.
“They’re like wait a minute! You abandoned us on the sidewalk and now you’re giving these people all these places to stay,” she added.
However, BAJI already knew of the lack of resources on the ground for people and those coming. The group demanded action and reached out to elected officials from Congress down to the local level, urging them to demand resources, according to Atty. Gyamfi. “We already know that in a place like L.A., there are a majority of unhoused people, and we know that there is housing. Let’s get it together. … Get housing for those already here and prep for those on the way,” she said.
“All of this they ignored. They ignored (it) for the sake of propping up the Democratic Party and making it seem like everything was going just well. And now we see that exactly what BAJI described, exactly what we warned about is exactly what has happened,” stated Atty. Gyamfi.
Part of the problem fomenting tensions stems from one of the biggest myths about immigration, which is that people are coming for American jobs because if there were Americans taking the jobs that are being given to those who come, there would be no expectation upon their arrival, explained Student Minister Abel Muhammad.
“People come here knowing that there is an opportunity for them to make more than they were making in their own country, but they don’t come here necessarily seeking the ‘American dream,’” he stated. They also come, seeing no way out of the poor conditions in their homeland, whether it be Mexico, Guatemala, or any of the other Central American or South American nations, he continued.
If people look more closely, a key question is how to get Black churches, mosques, and masjids to take in and house Black people the same way that Catholic and Latino churches and others do for Latino migrants and Venezuelan migrants, recommended Atty. Gyamfi. “The question is how to do more for Black people, whether they’re internally displaced or coming in from the outside, because there are Black churches with people sleeping on the doorsteps,” she said.
Another aspect is how to get more social services now that it’s been made clearer that resources are limited, she explained. The problem must be solved at a policy level, she said, citing Ukraine as the best example. Well over 200,000 Ukrainians have come into the U.S. but was there a migrant crisis? she asked.
“Were there Ukrainians in shelters? But there are over hundreds of thousands, literally. Where are they? The government mysteriously seemed to be able to help them. The government seems to have been able to get them work permits. The government seems to have been able to find a way to make sure that they’re not hungry. That same government can do the same thing for all of us,” she said.
BAJI argues that people need to start making demands of the Biden Administration. The 2024 U.S. presidential election is coming, and it is clear that whoever is running, a look at all of the candidates indicates that none of them is actually saying that they’re going to engage in policies that respond to the demands of working-class and impoverished Black people, regardless of migrant status, citizenship, and criminalization in this country, argued Atty. Gyamfi.
“We’re arguing over the wrong thing. We are fighting amongst each other to be in Thomas Jefferson’s rapist bed. We must stop that!” she said.
Student Minister Abdul Malik Sayyid Muhammad is the Western Region Representative for the Nation of Islam, headquartered in Los Angeles. He explained that what is being witnessed is the effect but that if people don’t study the science of cause and effect, “we’ll be out on the branches fighting from a perceived and an apparent understanding that’s not rooted in anything real,” he said.
By nature, according to the Teachings of the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad under the guidance of the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan, enemies of unity among the oppressed people tell lies among righteous people, causing them to fight and kill one another. America has gone into areas like Venezuela, Central and South America, and Panama, but what is being said to them about Blacks in America, and vice versa? he questioned.
“Who’s doing the reporting? So, the Holy Qur’an says to us when an unrighteous man or woman brings you negative news, look carefully into what they’re bringing lest you harm a people in ignorance,” he said, referring to the Islamic book of scripture. In those same Nation of Islam lessons, ignorance is cited as Black people’s biggest enemy, not Venezuelans or Mexicans, he pointed out.
“We are allowing our real enemy to tell us about other groups; therefore, our real enemy has a genocidal plan against all ethnic people. Well, what better way to kill people off than to cause a rival between two righteous people and make them fight and kill one another, because they aren’t bringing the immigrants into White areas,” he stated.