Coalition and partners Launch “Black Immigrant Engagement Initiative”

A coalition of immigrant advocates representing Black, African, Caribbean, and Afro-Latino communities announced this month a new collaboration to engage and uplift black immigrants called the Black Immigrant Engagement Initiative (BIEI).

This initiative will support black immigrant-led community-based organizations and legal service providers throughout the city to engage African, Afro-Caribbean, and Afro-Latino community members through outreach and direct legal services, as well as advocacy and mobilization efforts that integrate the black immigrant experience into the greater immigrant rights movement and inter-sectional movements such as Black Lives Matter.

New York has the largest black immigrant population in the country, with 910,000 black immigrants in New York – nearly a quarter of the country’s entire black immigrant population.

BIEI was crafted in collaboration with key partners African Communities Together, African Services Committee, and Black Alliance for Just Immigration, and the New York Immigration Coalition.

Amaha Kassa, African Communities Together founder & executive director said, “The reality is that New York’s African immigrants are underserved when it comes to immigration assistance, and overlooked when it comes to making policy that affects their lives. As an organization of African immigrants, African Communities Together is proud to come together with our black immigrant brothers and sisters to change that reality. On issues that affect our community, like Temporary Protected Status for Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone, we are showing that when it comes to immigrant rights, black voices matter.”

“The Black Immigrant Engagement Initiative (BIEI) builds collaboration between different black immigrant- led community groups to provide support and services to the black immigrant community,” said Niat Amare, African Services Committee BIEI coordinator & BIA accredited representative. “I am excited about this initiative as it seeks to develop strong partnerships among these community organizations. It will promote a sense of oneness and belonging in the black community, serving Africans, Afro Caribbeans, Afro Latinos and all those who identify as black.”

Trinh Tran, staff attorney at Sauti Yetu said, “Sauti Yetu is very excited to be part of the BIEI. African immigrant communities in New York are diverse, dynamic and growing. The BIEI provides us the opportunity to better reach communities and provide culturally and linguistically appropriate services. This is critical because of the lack of African language speakers in other agencies and to protect communities from immigration fraud.”