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Immigrant Legal Center
An Affiliate of the Justice
For Our Neighbors Network
4223 Center Street
Omaha, NE 68105


402.898.1349 | info@immigrantlc.org

An Affiliate of the Justice For Our Neighbors Network

Racism and the US Immigration System

Dear Friends,

Immigrant Legal Center’s mission is welcoming immigrants into communities with high-quality legal services, education, and advocacy. We are committed to welcoming and inclusivity work, intentionally striving for a world where Black lives matter, no person is illegal, and no human being is superior to another.

Right now, our country is having a long overdue conversation about race . As immigration legal service providers, we see firsthand the devastating effects of racism on our immigration system. Immigration has always been part of the racial landscape of America.  In fact, the very first law regarding Naturalization, dating all the way back to 1790, reserved citizenship by naturalization to “free white persons.” The Immigration Act of 1924 provided immigration visas to two percent of the total number of people of each nationality in the United States as of the 1890 national census, making it easier for white immigrants while severely limiting immigration from African and South American countries. It completely excluded immigrants from Asian countries.

To this day, immigration policies disproportionally affect immigrants of color, including the Muslim Travel Ban, ending Temporary Protective Status (TPS) for countries whose recipients are largely persons of color, ending the Central American Minors program, the attempted rescinding of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), separating families and putting children in cages and redistributing funding to keep out asylum seekers on the southern border.

Just like BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Color) Americans, non-white immigrants are more likely to be arrested, convicted, and imprisoned than the immigrant population as a whole. Immigration enforcement relies heavily on local and state law enforcement when making decisions on who to prioritize for deportation, seeking out 287g agreements like the one in Dakota County, Nebraska, which history has demonstrated have resulted in widespread racial profiling. 

Being arrested, even for minor traffic violations, low-level crimes, or crimes a person didn’t commit, can jeopardize an immigrant’s ability to remain in the United States. For example,

The reliance on state and local law enforcement for prioritization for deportation clearly reflects law enforcement’s racial bias when policing the Black community in particular.  For example, there is absolutely no evidence that Black immigrants commit crimes at a higher rate than the overall immigrant population. However, while Black immigrants make up only 7.2% of the non-citizen population in the U.S., they make up 20.3% of immigrants facing deportation on criminal grounds. This is unacceptable.

There are several recommendations from the Black Alliance for Immigration Justice and other partner agencies for how we can dismantle the racism present in our immigration system. A few of these recommendations include:

There are other ways we can combat systemic racism in our communities, including:

At Immigrant Legal Center, we will continue advocating for our clients, and immigrants seeking refuge and peace in the United States.

In solidarity,

Erik Omar
Executive Director

Immigrant Legal Center’s mission is welcoming immigrants into communities with high-quality legal services, education, and advocacy. We are committed to welcoming and inclusivity work, intentionally striving for a world where Black lives matter, no person is illegal, and no human being is superior to another.

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