Mission and History
BAJI members are united on four principles:
- All people, regardless of immigration status, country of origin, race, color, creed, gender, sexual orientation or HIV status deserve human rights as well as social and economic justice.
- Historically and currently, U.S. immigration policy has been infused with racism, enforcing unequal and punitive standards for immigrants of color.
- Immigration to the United States is driven by an unjust international economic system that deprives people of the ability to earn a living and raise their families in their home countries. Through international trade, lending, aid and investment policies, the United States government and corporations are the main promoters and beneficiaries of this unjust economic system.
- African Americans, with our history of being economically exploited, marginalized and discriminated against, have much in common with people of color who migrate to the United States, documented and undocumented.
BAJI supports an immigration policy with the following features:
- A fair path to legalization and citizenship for undocumented immigrants;
- No criminalization of undocumented workers immigrants or their families, friends and service providers;
- Due process, access to the courts and meaningful judicial review for immigrants;
- No mass deportations, indefinite detentions or expansion of mandatory detentions of undocumented immigrants;
- The strengthening and enforcement of labor law protections for all workers, native and foreign born;
- Reunification of families;
- No use of local or state government agencies in the enforcement of immigration laws.
BAJI is an education and advocacy group comprised of African Americans and black immigrants from Africa, Latin American and the Caribbean. It was founded in April 2006 in response to the massive outpouring of opposition of immigrants and their supporters to the repressive immigration bills then under consideration by the U.S. Congress.
Black activists in the Oakland/San Francisco Bay Area were called to action by Rev. Kelvin Sauls,a South African immigrant and Rev. Phillip Lawson, a long time Civil Rights leader and co-founder/co-chair of the California Interfaith Coalition for Immigrant Rights.
BAJI also grew out of the efforts of the Priority Africa Network. PAN organizes Africa Diaspora Dialogues which have brought African Americans and black immigrants from Africa, the Caribbean and Latin America together to dialogue about the myths and stereotypes as well as the cultural, social and political issues that divide our communities.
BAJI is a member organization of the National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, www.nnirr.org.
BAJI provides the African American community with a progressive analysis and framework on immigration that links the interests of African Americans with those of immigrants of color. BAJI’s analysis emphasizes the impact of racism and economic globalization on African American and immigrant communities as a basis for forging alliances across these communities.