ChickenBones: A Journal

for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes



To put it simply, Black immigrants have higher numbers of deportations

than Asian, Middle Eastern or White immigrants.  For example, in 2002, there were

8,921 total deportations of Black immigrants, whereas there were only . . .



Black Immigrants are Deported in Higher Numbers 

than Asian and Middle Eastern Immigrants: 

Reconsidering Immigrant Rights’ Challenge to ‘Racial Justice’ Work

By Tamara Kil Ja Kim Nopper


In the aftermath of 9-11, an agenda calling for immigrant rights organizing and racial justice work to come together has become popular in social justice circles.  Calls for coalition between the two camps were promoted before 9-11, but began to gain more momentum (and funding) after 9-11.  These gestures of “solidarity” were mostly heard from immigrant rights advocates, who used liberal political magazines, conferences, their newsletters, and other public forums to argue that racial justice politics could no longer ignore immigrants now that immigrants were becoming, according to some, the main victims of racial profiling and the prison system. 

Some immigrant rights advocates pointed out that immigrant rights work needed to have an analysis of state violence and therefore make coalition with racial justice movements, which had already been focusing on policing and prisons.  And some racial justice folks publicly spoke to the need for their camps to reach out to immigrants.  Indeed, it was only these sound bites—of racial justice folks publicly chastising themselves and their kin—that seemed to get any press in liberal political publications.

Yet this distinction between racial justice and immigrant rights was grounded in assumptions of which immigrants were being targeted by the state.  Racial justice has long been coded as Black, meaning that we assume racial justice is justice for Blacks only.  Immigrant rights, therefore, is often juxtaposed in opposition to racial justice issues, or issues that are connected with Blacks.  Immigrants are racialized as Brown (Mexican, Central American and South American) or as Asian or Middle Eastern (in most INS data, the two regions are actually considered under a broad “Asian” category that includes 39 nationalities).  In other words, immigrant rights is seen as speaking to the needs of non-Black immigrant groups of color, whereas racial justice is viewed as taking care of the needs of Blacks only. 

Not only does the common juxtaposition of immigrant rights versus racial justice promote the distorted yet highly popular image of Blacks as politically selfish, it is also a (false) distinction not grounded in the reality of who is racially profiled for deportation.  Looking at INS data of immigrant deportations from 1993-2002, we actually see several trends that indicate immigrant rights agendas are based in some misguided assumptions of which immigrants are being routinely targeted by the state. 

First, despite publicized reports inferring otherwise, the total number of immigrant deportations—or the forced removal of an immigrant to another country—are actually down after 9-11.  What has probably increased is immigrant detention, for which numbers are more difficult to get given the Department of Justice’s unwillingness to release definitive figures.  Second, after 9-11, there was not a stark increase among South Asians and Middle Easterners getting deported, or among those nationalities identified as “Muslim.”  Third, Black immigrants (Caribbean or African nationalities) and Brown immigrants (Mexican, Central American and South American nationalities) had significantly higher numbers of deportations compared to White (European nationalities) and Asian nationalities (which includes Middle Eastern nationalities) before and after 9-11.   

To put it simply, Black immigrants have higher numbers of deportations than Asian, Middle Eastern or White immigrants.  For example, in 2002, there were 8,921 total deportations of Black immigrants, whereas there were only 3,090 total deportations for Whites and 4,317 total deportations for Asians and Middle Easterners.  Overall, this trend is consistent from 1993-2002.   

While it is not surprising that Brown immigrants, especially those from Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras, are targeted by the state—given the large amounts of money pumped into Border Patrol for staffing and surveillance—the targeting of Black immigrants by the INS does not tend to receive as much attention among immigrant rights folks.  Yet Black immigrants, particularly Dominicans, Jamaicans and Haitians, have relatively high rates of deportations.  And the number of Black immigrant deportations does not include South Americans (such as Columbians, Brazilians and Guyanese, who, relative to other South Americans, have high deportation rates), many of whom may be Black.  And Black immigrants tend to have higher numbers of deportations than Asians and Whites, despite the fact that the rate of immigration from Africa and the Caribbean tends to be slower than the rate of Asian and Brown immigration. 

Given the limited attention given to Black immigrants in the immigrant rights discourse, there is of course little mention of the fact that between 1993 and 2002, Black immigrants tend to be deported more for criminal deportations than non-criminal deportations.  Asians (including Middle Easterns and many “Muslim” nationalities), however, tended to be overwhelmingly deported for non-criminal deportations than criminal deportations.  Between 1993 and 2002, the proportion of criminal deportations out of all Asian deportations ranged between 24-34%, reaching the peak of 34% in 1999.  Compare that to the proportion of criminal deportations out of all Black deportations.  During 1993 and 2002, criminal deportations of Black immigrants ranged between 57-75%, reaching the peak of 75% in 1996.  In short, criminal deportations are more common for Black immigrants whereas the reverse is true for Asian immigrants. 

The distinction between criminal deportations and non-criminal deportations is important because it indicates how different immigrant groups are racialized as inherently “criminal,” and therefore seem to experience more state surveillance as immigrants.  Generally, criminal deportations mean that you were convicted of a crime, with the result that you are removed from the country after you serve your prison sentence.  Any non-naturalized immigrant, regardless of status, can be forcibly removed from the US if they are convicted of an aggravated felony, which is any crime that carries a one-year or more sentence.  Non-criminal deportations are usually deportations of immigrants who attempted to enter the US illegally or who overstayed their initial visa without adjusting their status. 

As William Branigan and Gabriel Escobar report in a 1999 Washington Post article (, a significant proportion of criminal deportations are due to drug-related convictions.  Therefore, the US’ “war on drugs,” which has translated into a war against Black communities, also affects Black immigrants as well.  So too does racial profiling and heavy police presence in Black communities.  Laws—particularly drug statutes that target Black communities—and anti-Black racism in the criminal injustice system, including the sentencing process, must be considered as issues that inform immigrant experiences as well. 

In light of these trends, immigrant rights may need to reevaluate its lack of focus on Black immigrants.  More to the point, immigrant rights activists may want to question the lack of attention given to anti-Black racism as a structure that shapes the immigrant experience.  It is apparent that darker people are not only the target of domestic police measures, this targeting also serves to largely determine who will get deported and for what reasons.  As the numbers show, Black people are targeted for deportation just as they are targeted for prisons. 

Yet the focus on Middle Eastern and (South) Asian immigrants after 9-11 reveals a tendency among the large majority of immigrant rights advocates to defend those “innocent” immigrants who have been “criminalized” instead of those immigrants who, because of racism, are automatically viewed as criminal and therefore experience more aggressive and routine forms of racial profiling.  Hence the current focus on “innocent” South Asian, Middle Eastern and/or Muslim immigrants who are being “treated like criminals,” or the tendency to defend immigrants on the basis that they work hard, contribute to the economy and are “law-abiding.” 

Overall, the racial trends of immigrant deportations raise some important questions for immigrant rights work to consider.  First, we may ask why immigrant rights activists and our allies—with the exception of those who work specifically with Black immigrants—tend to render Black immigrants invisible in our current campaigns.  Second, we may question why it is that immigrant rights activism operates with the apparently false dichotomy between immigrant rights and racial justice work.  That is, we may consider why it is that we pose immigrant rights work as distinct from racial justice work, despite the revealing numbers that indicate Black bodies are targeted for not only domestic forms of policing, but for immigrant deportation as well. — August 18, 2003

Tamara Kil Ja Kim Nopper ( is a journalist, educator, writer, researcher, and activist currently based in Philadelphia.  Copyright 2003 © Tamara Kil Ja Kim Nopper


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Immigrants, Minorities and Race Relations

A Bibliography of Theses and Dissertations

Presented at British and Irish Universities, 1900-1981

By Victor F. Gilbert and Darshan Singh Tatla

*   *   *   *   *’s 25 Best Selling Books



#1 – Justify My Thug by Wahida Clark #2 – Flyy Girl by Omar Tyree #3 – Head Bangers: An APF Sexcapade by Zane #4 – Life Is Short But Wide by J. California Cooper #5 – Stackin’ Paper 2 Genesis’ Payback by Joy King #6 – Thug Lovin’ (Thug 4) by Wahida Clark #7 – When I Get Where I’m Going by Cheryl Robinson #8 – Casting the First Stone by Kimberla Lawson Roby #9 – The Sex Chronicles: Shattering the Myth by Zane

#10 – Covenant: A Thriller  by Brandon Massey

#11 – Diary Of A Street Diva  by Ashley and JaQuavis

#12 – Don’t Ever Tell  by Brandon Massey

#13 – For colored girls who have considered suicide  by Ntozake Shange

#14 – For the Love of Money : A Novel by Omar Tyree

#15 – Homemade Loves  by J. California Cooper

#16 – The Future Has a Past: Stories by J. California Cooper

#17 – Player Haters by Carl Weber

#18 – Purple Panties: An Anthology by Sidney Molare

#19 – Stackin’ Paper by Joy King

#20 – Children of the Street: An Inspector Darko Dawson Mystery by Kwei Quartey

#21 – The Upper Room by Mary Monroe

#22 – Thug Matrimony  by Wahida Clark

#23 – Thugs And The Women Who Love Them by Wahida Clark

#24 – Married Men by Carl Weber

#25 – I Dreamt I Was in Heaven – The Rampage of the Rufus Buck Gang by Leonce Gaiter


#1 – Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marable #2 – Confessions of a Video Vixen by Karrine Steffans #3 – Dear G-Spot: Straight Talk About Sex and Love by Zane #4 – Letters to a Young Brother: MANifest Your Destiny by Hill Harper #5 – Peace from Broken Pieces: How to Get Through What You’re Going Through by Iyanla Vanzant #6 – Selected Writings and Speeches of Marcus Garvey by Marcus Garvey #7 – The Ebony Cookbook: A Date with a Dish by Freda DeKnight #8 – The Isis Papers: The Keys to the Colors by Frances Cress Welsing #9 – The Mis-Education of the Negro by Carter Godwin Woodson

#10 – John Henrik Clarke and the Power of Africana History  by Ahati N. N. Toure

#11 – Fail Up: 20 Lessons on Building Success from Failure by Tavis Smiley

#12 –The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander

#13 – The Black Male Handbook: A Blueprint for Life by Kevin Powell

#14 – The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates by Wes Moore

#15 – Why Men Fear Marriage: The Surprising Truth Behind Why So Many Men Can’t Commit  by RM Johnson

#16 – Black Titan: A.G. Gaston and the Making of a Black American Millionaire by Carol Jenkins

#17 – Brainwashed: Challenging the Myth of Black Inferiority by Tom Burrell

#18 – A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose by Eckhart Tolle

#19 – John Oliver Killens: A Life of Black Literary Activism by Keith Gilyard

#20 – Alain L. Locke: The Biography of a Philosopher by Leonard Harris

#21 – Age Ain’t Nothing but a Number: Black Women Explore Midlife by Carleen Brice

#22 – 2012 Guide to Literary Agents by Chuck Sambuchino #23 – Chicken Soup for the Prisoner’s Soul by Tom Lagana #24 – 101 Things Every Boy/Young Man of Color Should Know by LaMarr Darnell Shields

#25 – Beyond the Black Lady: Sexuality and the New African American Middle Class  by Lisa B. Thompson

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The New Jim Crow

Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness

By Michele Alexander

Contrary to the rosy picture of race embodied in Barack Obama’s political success and Oprah Winfrey’s financial success, legal scholar Alexander argues vigorously and persuasively that [w]e have not ended racial caste in America; we have merely redesigned it. Jim Crow and legal racial segregation has been replaced by mass incarceration as a system of social control (More African Americans are under correctional control today… than were enslaved in 1850). Alexander reviews American racial history from the colonies to the Clinton administration, delineating its transformation into the war on drugs. She offers an acute analysis of the effect of this mass incarceration upon former inmates who will be discriminated against, legally, for the rest of their lives, denied employment, housing, education, and public benefits.

Most provocatively, she reveals how both the move toward colorblindness and affirmative action may blur our vision of injustice: most Americans know and don’t know the truth about mass incarceration—but her carefully researched, deeply engaging, and thoroughly readable book should change that.—Publishers Weekly

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Blacks in Hispanic Literature: Critical Essays

Edited by Miriam DeCosta-Willis 

Blacks in Hispanic Literature is a collection of fourteen essays by scholars and creative writers from Africa and the Americas. Called one of two significant critical works on Afro-Hispanic literature to appear in the late 1970s, it includes the pioneering studies of Carter G. Woodson and Valaurez B. Spratlin, published in the 1930s, as well as the essays of scholars whose interpretations were shaped by the Black aesthetic. The early essays, primarily of the Black-as-subject in Spanish medieval and Golden Age literature, provide an historical context for understanding 20th-century creative works by African-descended, Hispanophone writers, such as Cuban Nicolás Guillén and Ecuadorean poet, novelist, and scholar Adalberto Ortiz, whose essay analyzes the significance of Negritude in Latin America.

This collaborative text set the tone for later conferences in which writers and scholars worked together to promote, disseminate, and critique the literature of Spanish-speaking people of African descent. . . . Cited by a literary critic in 2004 as “the seminal study in the field of Afro-Hispanic Literature . . . on which most scholars in the field ‘cut their teeth’.”

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The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

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Ancient African Nations

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The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery /

George Jackson  / Hurricane Carter

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The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

The Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804  / January 1, 1804 — The Founding of Haiti 

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update 2 June 2012




Home  Criminalizing a Race: Blacks and Prisons Table    Irene Monroe  Table

Related files:  MLB Manipulates Immigration Laws  Immigrants British