New proposal blocks African and Caribbean immigrants

Kevin Bogardus and Russell Berman | 5/15/2013, 11:46 a.m.

Rep. Steven Horsford, D-Nev., another co-chairman of the CBC’s immigration task force, said the group met on Wednesday afternoon to discuss the diversity visa issue.

“We continue to be concerned about the discontinuation of the diversity waiver, and the fact that … African and Caribbean immigrants who are participating in the diversity visa [program] per year could lose that pathway,” Horsford said.

Horsford said CBC leaders have been in talks with immigration reform negotiators in both the House and the Senate. He suggested the merit-based replacement program was included in the Senate bill at the urging of the CBC.

“In large part, this alternative has been proposed because of our concerns with the diversity visa [discontinuation]. Meaning, we brought this issue up when we heard that it was being talked about [being] eliminated,” Horsford said. “And we said, ‘Look, without some meaningful alternative that ensures that all communities, including Caribbean and African immigrants, are protected, then … we [the CBC] would have major concern.’”

Horsford said Rep. Yvette Clarke, D-N.Y., another leader of the CBC’s immigration task force, has been in talks with Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., a member of the Senate’s “Gang of Eight,” about diversity visas.

“And now that we have the language, and now that we can see the alternative specifically, we can, you know, begin to work on how it affects our communities,” Horsford said.

Horsford said he expected the House immigration reform bill would have similar language related to diversity visas and the merit-based replacement program.

Shelton of the NAACP said he was hoping for “a strengthening” of the diversity visa program in the immigration reform bill by increasing its number of visas and expediting their processing time.

“It has not been demonstrated yet that the merit-based visas that are being lifted up will solve the problems that diversity visas were intended to solve,” Shelton said. “There may be a need for an amendment to fix this problem in the future to help African and Caribbean immigrants.”

African Globe