Black refugees have been arriving at the US-Mexico border seeking asylum in the US. They make the trip traveling to South America and then travel to the US. Cameroon is one of many countries hit by war and destruction causing many people to flee. A lot of Cameroonian refugees are seeking asylum in the US. Unfortunately, a lot of their asylum cases are being denied due to stricter asylum laws. This has increased the number of Cameroonian refugees and other black immigrants in detention centers. Black immigrants are kept in detention centers for a longer time compared to other immigrants. For many Cameroonians and other black immigrants, they face violence and death back in their country of origin.
Fighting to Stay
Black refugees have reported ICE officers using violence and torture to force them to sign their own deportations. They have reported beatings, being pepper-sprayed, and denied contact with their lawyers. These reports are coming from Prairieland Detention Center in Fort Worth, Texas, and Adams County Correctional Facility in Natchez, Mississippi. Protesters came out demanding a group of black immigrants at Prairieland Detention not be deported. Despite their efforts, a group of Cameroonian and Congolese refugees was deported in October. Many of these refugees included those who had complained of the physical abuse they experienced by ICE officers.
Black immigrants make up twenty percent of those awaiting deportation in the US. Without a doubt, none of them want to leave which is why they are demanding their release from detention centers. Some have even gone on hunger strikes. Most of them are punished for speaking up either by being placed in solitary confinement or through abuse. Detention centers are only adding on to the trauma and fear that many immigrants have already experienced.
Covid is Spreading
Being in detention puts more immigrants at risk for contracting the coronavirus. Detention centers have not taken the necessary precautions to protect immigrants from the virus. Immigrants are only given one mask. They are not given sanitary products and cannot physically distance themselves due to overcrowding. Also, they are not tested for the virus which has caused many immigrants to be infected. By the time someone is known to be infected, everyone else has already contracted the virus. When someone does test positive for the virus, they are placed in solitary confinement. Many immigrants who have spoken out against these conditions have been put in solitary confinement too. Those speaking up include black immigrants. Being punished for speaking up for your rights and your health is utterly dehumanizing. Solitary confinement is no place to put a human being in. Immigrants are humans who should be protected from the virus.
Black Immigrant Lives
The mistreatment that black immigrants are experiencing is exactly what they are fleeing from. Immigrants choose the US because they believe they can start a new life and their rights will be upheld. Equally important, they do not expect so much mistreatment nor to be imprisoned. Black immigration is not separate from the Black Lives Matter movement. Black immigrant lives are threatened when they are in detention centers, when they are tortured, when they are deported, etc. Now their health is at risk because of the virus. Nonetheless, it is important to keep supporting the release of black immigrants and for them to not be deported. Giving them asylum is one way to secure they are not returned to a country that will torture and imprison them.