African immigrants face severe racism and other problems in United States

Year in year out many immigrants enter the United State in search of greener pastures. However, life never turns as smooth as many of them usually anticipate. Ethnic and religious discrimination and racism are some of the problems that the immigrants have faced since time immemorial. Other problems include xenophobic attacks, draconian laws that deny some of the immigrants the basic human rights like voting rights and the right to own property.


Immigrants living in America have to endure the close scrutiny, remarks and questions raised by the native born Americans. Many Native Americans have confronted the immigrants and asked them on their status. This is because many Native Americans usually feel that most of them usually deny them employment by taking up some positions at very low wage pay. Many immigrants have to been asked with many citizens of what they think of America, for how long they have been in the country and their native countries. It is easily to get offended when asked such questions. Some immigrants have found themselves into trouble by resorting to be physical. These are some of the things that may lead to deportation.

A clear line should be drawn between discrimination and curiosity. Curiosity is a natural phenomenon. Many Americans just like any other natural will become curious when they notice immigrants in their locality. Discrimination is however a vice and refers to attacking an immigrant because of their cultural or religious backgrounds. Explaining to the natives that you are from Asia or Africa to more than 1000 people can be really stressing. Immigrants are therefore advised not to take offence at the questions that they are being asked. It is important for them to understand the locals once they are faced with much suspicion. This is because of the fact that many Americans have never left their country; some have never left their state. Native Americans will therefore become curious whenever they meet immigrants from other country. They may question so that they learn a thing or two about the immigrant’s background.

Some of the institutions in the United States whereby immigrants face discrimination include the military, internment camps and residential schools just but to mention a few. Although racial discrimination was banned way back in the 20th century, racial discrimination is still rife because of the racial politics. The historical discrimination of immigrants is however being reflected in the socio economic inequality. Racism has taken a more modern approach with perpetrators of this vice using the indirect forms of expression while in the real sense they are advancing discrimination against the immigrants. Immigrants continue to face discrimination when they seek for employment, education, loans and when they want to own property. Discrimination of immigrants in the US is still rife because most of the “white” American citizens continue having prejudices against the other races. Discrimination and racial attacks is mainly directly towards the Latin Americans, African Americans and Muslims. Just like racism, immigration has deep roots in the United States. The most unfortunate thing is that whenever United States faces problems, the immigrants are usually used as a scapegoat.


The illegal immigrants in the United States complicate the situation further. It is reported that there are least 12 million people living in the United States without legal documentation. Most of these illegal immigrants are usually left to live disgracefully on the outskirts of society. Most of them leave in fear because they are likely to be deported back to their home countries once they have been discovered. This is unlike the fact that most of them are usually law abiding citizens and very hardworking as they look for money to support themselves and those of their dependants. Most of the illegal immigrants will do jobs that most Americans are unwilling to do. They take up these jobs at the minimum wages. This therefore means that immigrants have their place in the American economy as they fill a very important gap in the American society. Immigrants should therefore not be taken for granted. Most influential Americans who own businesses and have firms are usually very hypocrites when they criticize the growing number of the immigrants in America. Most of them employ these immigrants and infringe on their basic rights by overworking them and paying them very low wages. Most of them deny them the rights and privileges as provided by the American constitution. They exploit the immigrants due to the fact that they are vulnerable to their illegal stay in the country.

By continually discriminating and abusing the basic human rights of the immigrants in the United States, Americans abandon the basic principle that constitutes the American society. America as a nation should take pride in having people with rich and diverse cultural backgrounds in the country. The immigrants should therefore be given an equal opportunity and chance to excel in America just like the other natives. Immigrants, who want to come to America to make a positive impact in the society, help the American economy and better their lives and those of their dependants should be allowed to come and live in America. The immigrants have every right to be treated as first class citizens because of the contribution that they make to the American economy. Immigrants should be treated well and with respect by Americans because of their contribution to the American economy. Most of them provide labor for most jobs that many Americans shun and even take up some jobs at very low wages. When immigrants come to the United States, most of them usually leave their families and other dependants back in their native countries. Many from countries like Mexico and Guatemala have left widow villages and towns back at their native countries. This is because in most cases it is the men that look for money and food for their families while the women take care of their children.

During their initial stay in the United State the communication with their families usually become minimal as they stay longer in America. Most of their dependants usually leave luxuriously in their native countries not knowing what the immigrant is going through in America. However, with time some immigrants have been known to adjust to the new lifestyle in America and started new families. This therefore means that their families in their backyard have been forced to fend for themselves and their children. Immigration therefore poses risks in marriages especially if an immigrant is married. The long distance has been one of the leading causes of infidelity, separations and divorces.

Many immigrants have been unfairly arrested because they are suspected to be terrorists. Immigrants of the Muslim faith have been unfairly treated for suspicions that they are terrorists. America has very tough laws on terrorism and some of the immigrants have been affected by these laws. It is however not fair and is against the universal rights to treat an immigrant unfairly just because he is a Muslim. Most of the immigrants come to America to have a better life and not to cause terror to the American citizens. Some of the immigrants have however fallen in the traps of terrorists who use them to cause havoc to the American people. Some terrorists pose as guest workers while in the real sense they want to kills Americans and destroy property. This is one of the reasons as to tough screening is done to all immigrants and their history traced.

Many immigrants usually start experiencing problems as soon as they enter the United States. Immigrants who come from countries that do not speak English usually have problems in communicating. They have to take English classes. Most of them however do not have enough funds to pay the English tutors which mean that most of them have to do odd jobs to raise funds for the English classes. Many immigrants usually leave their home countries with high expectation of living the American dream. Some of the immigrants, notably the refugees usually flee their countries as a result of hardships like war trauma, rape, persecution, rape and poverty. However, many of them do not anticipate the stress that is awaiting them in America- the land of opportunities.

Immigrants who are green card applicants cannot live with their families in the United States until the members of their family have their green card approved and processed. In most cases the approval of the green card of spouses of green card applicants can take between 3 and 10 years. For immigrants in the Philippines, Canada, Mexico, China and India they have to wait for between 5 and 10 years for their green cards applications to be approved. Immigrants in the United States with the H4 visa have no authorization to work or get employed in the United States. This can be very stressing bearing in mind that most immigrants are usually poor. They come to the United States to work and raise income for themselves and that of their dependants. It therefore becomes very difficult for such immigrants to sit at home and do absolutely nothing yet they have to eat and pay house rent.

Another problem encountered by the immigrants is the problem that is associated with moving from one’s native country to the United State. When an immigrant to the United State he usually moves a lone in most cases leaving his family and friends behind.  In the event someone was in school he will have to adjust to the educational system in the United States. In some instances, there are people who have been forced to go back to square zero. As much as moving to the United State might be an interesting thing, it is also a very stressful affair. Many of the immigrants find totally new guys talking a different language with a different way of life. It is usually a very bitter pill to swallow especially if an immigrant is coming from a background that is a conservative one.

Immigrants who come to the United States as students also have their share of problems. Student immigrants with the F1 visa cannot get employed or work in companies that is not related at all to their course work. This therefore means that the students cannot work part time to raise their tuition fee and get money for some other errands. Most student immigrants usually lie to the embassy that their intention is to go back to their native country once their education is over but stay longer after their studies to get the United States citizenship. Many of the immigrants that come to the United States come to look for better working conditions and wages compared to their home countries. United States indeed is a land of opportunity as it has numerous job opportunities compared to the other countries. However, for immigrants who do not speak English usually find the going tough for them. The non-English speaking immigrants are usually compelled to take up jobs that do not pay very well. This makes it really hard for them to live the American dream.

Access to proper health care is another problem faced by the new immigrants in United States. Many immigrants usually find it very hard to access health care. This is because most of the immigrants usually work on jobs that do not really pay them well. The low paying jobs do not have the health insurance. Many families do not have funds to hire the services of a professionally trained doctor. Language barrier usually plays a part because most of them are usually unable to express themselves and seek for professional help. Doctors on the other hand usually have a hard time in diagnosing them because of the communication barrier between the two. Even after being diagnosed and being prescribed by a given a drug, the immigrants find it hard to follow the instructions.
The different cultural backgrounds can lead to deportation of some immigrants who break laws of United States. Immigrants who use corporal punishment to discipline their children may find themselves deported. One of the ways that the Native Americans usually notice immigrants is whenever they speak with the non American accent.  Immigrants usually face the accent issue with many of the American population. Many immigrants are usually stopped by strangers in the streets when they notice a different accent. As an immigrant, it is however important not to take the issue of accent too much at heart. It is important to note that there are some people who just love arguing. At times immigrants get engaged in meaningless arguments with the natives on how a certain word should be pronounced.

African immigrants face racism in U.S.

Over the last several decades there has been a significant increase in the number of immigrants from the Caribbean and the African continent living inside the United States. Nonetheless, there was a decline in the number of Caribbean nationals who were granted naturalized citizenship during 2009. In 2008 some 131,935 people from the Caribbean gained citizenship in the U.S., in comparison to a significant decline to 84,917 in 2009. (, April 23)

This reduction in the number of people from the Caribbean becoming citizens follows a broader pattern. In 2008 some 1,046,539 overall became naturalized, while in 2009, there were only 743,715.

It is not surprising that Cuban immigrants topped the list of those from the Caribbean becoming naturalized, with 24,891. The U.S. has favored and even encouraged immigration from Cuba in the five-decades-long destabilization campaign against the island’s socialist government. But even the number of Cubans being given citizenship declined from the 39,871 who became naturalized in 2008.

The group showing an increase in naturalization is nationals from the African continent. They face discrimination and racism in the U.S.

Several years ago Laurier T. Raymond Jr., the mayor of Lewiston, Maine, stated publicly that the Somali immigrant community should look elsewhere to live. Raymond voiced sentiments of the largely white city that the presence of immigrants from East Africa would adversely impact the living standards and culture of the broader community.

Jonathan Rogers, a Portland, Maine, resident, stated: “Can you imagine a city mayor turning away hoards of new residents and their contributions to the local economy in today’s economic climate? Mayor Raymond wasn’t alone, however. Many Mainers still harbor a sentiment of distrust, disapproval and hostility toward unfamiliar immigrants.” (Portland Press Herald, April 14)

“Xenophobia can make you believe all sorts of things; that these new families are a drag on the economy that they all live in public housing and are unemployed or that the low-income neighborhoods they may inhabit are the most crime-ridden in town.”

Rogers encourages people to “take a tour of the neighborhoods with public housing developments in Portland, many of which are home to Somalis and other East African families. Compared to areas of similar income, you will find stronger communities, more thriving social networks and more civic-minded people there than anywhere else in the city.”

The World Bank estimates that “African immigrants living abroad mostly in North America and Europe send home between $32 and $40 billion every year. This figure far exceeds the money that is given to Africa through formalized development aid channels.” (Modern Ghana News, April 5)

Despite the constructive role played by African immigrants in the U.S., numerous cases have been reported of African immigrants being harassed, brutalized and murdered by law enforcement.

The Somali community in Minneapolis has been targeted as suspects in the so-called “war on terrorism.” During President Barrack Obama’s inauguration in 2009, the FBI questioned Somali student activists about an alleged plot to assassinate the president. Mosques frequented by Somalis have been infiltrated by government informants and recently there have been reports in the corporate media claiming that youth are being recruited to fight against the U.S.-backed Transitional Federal Government in Mogadishu.

Workers have no borders

Inside the United States it is important that labor organizers and anti-racist and civil rights groups condemn acts of discrimination and violence against immigrant workers. These attacks are not just directed against the foreign-born and their descendants but are designed to weaken and intimidate the working class and the nationally oppressed as a whole.

The emergence of the so-called “Tea Party” movement in the U.S. represents another manifestation of an age-old phenomenon: ruling-class attempts to divide and conquer the working class and the oppressed. These angry workers and displaced middle-class whites are being encouraged by sections of the capitalist class to attack immigrants, African-Americans, Latinos/as, women, the LGBTQ communities, unions and all progressive forces.

In fostering international solidarity with immigrant workers, progressive forces inside the U.S. and Europe can build a united front against a potentially dangerous neo-fascist movement that is supported and promoted by the ruling class and its corporate media outlets.

Only a broad-based alliance of working people, immigrants and the nationally oppressed can effectively counter efforts by the capitalist class to further impoverish and politically isolate the struggles against the economic austerity imposed on the majority of people inside the United States and around the world.



Living in America: Challenges Facing New Immigrants and Refugees, Katherine E. Garrett, 2006


About Mercy

Mercy is a public health and humanitarian practitioner, strategist and community educator and mobilizer, blogger, HIV/AIDS and Social Justice/Human Rights Activist who is courageously advocating for the Dignity, Health Equity and non-discrimination of all Marginalized and Vulnerable Social Groups by fighting the prevalent HIV, the widespread Homophobia and other forms of socio-economic exclusions/injustice in Ethiopia. He is also the co-founder and director of the pioneer; Rainbow-Ethiopia Health and Human Rights Initiative, the one and only LGBTI Health and Human rights organization in Ethiopia Please feel free to Contact him at: Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Posted on June 4, 2013, in African LGBTI News, Rainbow-Ethiopia Updates. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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