The Inland Coalition for Immigrant Justice’s (IC4IJ) rapid response network provides services and resources to refugees released from detention.
In May of 2019, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) began busing detained refugees to the downtown San Bernardino Greyhound station and dropping them off without any resources. The Executive Director of IC4IJ, Javier Hernandez, describes how their Rapid Response Network became involved in the refugee migration crisis in the Inland Valley: “It was May 14th when the drop-offs of refugees at Greyhound station [by ICE] began. I believe the first day was about 10 to 15 people… On the 17th, there were 68, and the highest number of drop-offs we saw was 72 people in one day. At that point, we activated our network.” In response, the IC4IJ activated their rapid response network to coordinate support, deliver food, and create shelters. Within one day, a local church opened their doors and over 100 volunteers showed up to help. “What we’re going to do is where [the administration] wants to create chaos, we’re going to welcome people, and we’re going to create a shelter, and we’re going to welcome people and give them the dignity and respect that they deserve, and that’s how we got involved with the migrant situation in San Bernardino,” said Hernandez. IC4IJ continues to provide services and advance immigrant justice in the Inland Valley through policy advocacy, community organizing and education, and rapid response to ICE and border patrol operations. More recently, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, IC4IJ coordinated the Immigrant Liberation Fund to assist detained immigrants who are at higher risk of contracting the virus and have been released from the Adelanto Detention Center on bond, but are still detained because they are unable to afford to pay the bond. Learn more about the organization, the network, and their work with immigrants and refugees here.
Photo credit: Inland Coalition for Immigrant Justice
The lack of culturally and linguistically appropriate services for Black immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers impedes their ability to navigate a complex immigration system, particularly at the border.
In 2017, The Partnership for the Advancement of New Americans (PANA), Haitian Bridge Alliance (HBA), and The Black Alliance for Just Immigration (BAJI) organized a Black-led, Black migrant focused delegation to the U.S.-Mexico border to better understand the challenges faced by Black immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers at the border.
Following this visit, BAJI published Black Lives at the Border, a report uplifting stories and outlining recommendations for improving the conditions of recently arrived Black immigrants and refugees. For example, the report presents the case of Anabelle, a Haitian migrant and mother of six, who migrated to the U.S. due to economic hardship caused by the earthquakes in Haiti. Before arriving in San Diego at the U.S. border, Anabelle traveled from Haiti to the Dominican Republic, Brazil, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, and Mexico.
Anabelle did not have access to immigration translation services in Haitian Creole, an experience faced by many other immigrants of African descent. As a result, Anabelle could not attend her assigned court appearance and, in her absence, was given a deportation order. The report found that there needs to be massive increase in civil society support and most importantly community based solidarity with Black immigrant and refugee people who are building their support systems in extremely difficult situations. There is a severe need for housing, medical care and culturally competent attorneys and interpreters. Efforts to address these challenges and the scale of the problem need to be led by the Black immigrants organized at the border. Due to these increasing needs, the few Black-led immigrant rights organizations in California that provide services, advocacy, and transition support to recently arrived Black immigrants living in border states are also in urgent need of increased capacity and resources.