“Imagine being pulled over because I’m black,” Joella Roberts said as she addressed protesters with a loudspeaker. “And it’s a double whammy because I’m undocumented.”
Roberts led hundreds of Black Lives Matter protesters on a march down Washington D.C. Saturday, briefly stopping in front of the Trump International Hotel for a round of speeches. She is a 22-year-old undocumented black immigrant from Trinidad and Tobago, and received Deffered Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) in 2015.
The Obama-era program is meant to shield and provide work permits to undocumented immigrants, who entered the United States as children. It has been at risk since 2017 when President Trump called to end it. Three courts blocked the decision on grounds that Trump’s administration did not file adequate paperwork.
The Supreme Court is expected to decide on Department of Homeland Security v. University of California and the two other related cases in the next few weeks–Monday at the earliest. The higher court does not often weigh in on paperwork, but the decision could result in the deportation of 700,000 DACA recipients.
The decision could go several ways–the court may side with the three lower courts, and the administration will have to file the appropriate paperwork to end DACA. It could rule the paperwork is valid, ending DACA. Or, it could altogether deem ending DACA unlawful. Oral arguments on November 2019 indicate the third outcome is unlikely.
“I could be deported. I could lose it all,” said Roberts, who said she is the sole income and provider of her family. Facing the risk of both police brutality and possible deportation, Roberts decided to bring her issues to light at the Black Lives Matter D.C. protest.
“This is the plight of black immigrants in this country,” she spoke to the crowd. “Amadou Diallo, say his name!”
Amadou Diallo was a 23-year-old Guinean and West African immigrant who was shot and killed by four New York Police Department officers on February 4, 1999. Diallo was unarmed, and struck with 19 bullets outside his apartment.
“He is one of hundreds, maybe thousands of black immigrants without hashtags,” said Roberts.
To Bella Hounakey, a black immigrant from Togo, the fight for police reform has to go beyond marching. She said, from experience, that exercising democracy is the only way forward.
“I’m from a country where police are not held accountable for their actions,” said Hounakey to a crowd of protestors Tuesday. Togo’s police force has a reputation of mass corruption and human rights abuses, from excessive force to torture, and harsh prison conditions, according to an Amnesty report.
“So I don’t believe in defunding the police,” she said. “We have to dismantle the infrastructure.”
To Hounakey, there needs to be total and complete reform on how America is policed, without jeopardizing the chance for immigrant victims of crime to receive justice and a place in the U.S. She believes the message of defunding the police needs to be more comprehensive.
“I was trafficked,” Hounakey later told The Immigrant’s Bay. “And the [FBI] rescued me.” Trafficked from Togo to Michigan at 12-years-old, Hounakey was rescued in an FBI bust and granted a T Visa. She just received citizenship in January and was later appointed to the United States Advisory Council on Human Trafficking.
“We have to vote,” she said. “We have to change every single law, from every single department, from state to federal.”