The Immigration Movement:  Advancing Social and Economic Justice for All

Currently, all eyes are on Congress and their debate around comprehensive immigration reform.  Will they or will they not is the pressing question. But what is certain is that immigration reform will not only significantly impact the economy as a whole, but it will also particularly impact the economic realities of marginalized communities and communities of color.

So, protecting the rights of immigrants and undocumented persons, especially in regards to their presence in the workforce and economy must be part of this reform. For starters, we must dispel myths on immigration, which can be achieved by opening up inclusive discussions where everyone’s experiences are heard and validated.

First, the characterization of immigration as Latino immigrants stealing jobs from other Americans is false.  A recent report from the Jackson Free Press shows that the workforce of certain communities, especially Black communities, is not detrimentally affected by the presence of immigrants. In fact, evidence suggest that immigrants are integral to creating a working and beneficial economy for all, exampled by the $115 million immigrants created for the Medicare Trust Fund surplus from 2002 to 2009.

Also, it’s important to recognize that the incredibly large immigrant community, which includes a group of 11 million diverse and working undocumented immigrants, is not a homogenous one. And the exclusive nature of this discussion is not only harmful to all people of color who exist in diasporic or immigrant communities, but also doesn’t address the economic needs and growing contributions of other immigrants.

Immigration affects all types of communities - Latinos, Asians, Blacks, Middle Easterns, and queer folks.  As a whole, immigrants make up almost a majority of the poor classes in the United States, which proves that the lack of comprehensive reform and understanding helps institutionalize the presence of people of color in the lower classes.

So with the discussions of immigration increasingly present in the legislature, it’s important that marginalized communities stand together and support their own presence in the discussion and the presence of aligned communities. This is especially an issue of great relevance towards the economic mobility of people of color and Black folks as well.

To help build this awareness, the NAACP Economic Facebook and Twitter will uplift Black, South Asian, API, queer, and Middle Eastern immigration and how their economic realities intersect throughout this week.  We aim to use this weeklong campaign to highlight how the immigration movement is an integral place to further connect already present struggles for social justice, racial justice, and economic justice.

Let’s not get caught in the trap of the immigration narrative that suppresses the voices of people of color and queer folks and eliminate the division among the marginalized communities who are all fighting for the same thing – economic opportunity and mobility. Instead, let’s continue to join beautiful coalitions and work together to advance an inclusive economy that is just and fair for all.