Raha Jorjani, an immigration lawyer from the Office of Alameda County Public, says that Black Americans should qualify as refugees, even in their own country. The immigration lawyer has advised and represented hundreds of non-citizens who face deportation and equates their plight with the persecution faced by black people throughout the country.
Jorjani explained her views, giving a hypothetical example of a situation where it applies.
“Suppose a client walked into my office and told me that police officers in his country had choked a man to death over a petty crime. Suppose he said police fatally shot another man in the back as he ran away.” She added, “that they arrest a woman during a traffic stop, and placed her in jail where she died three days later.”
Jorjani then continues that had the hypothetical client come from another country, he would certainly qualify as a refugee in the United States. This is because the said client is part of an ethnic community whose members fear being harmed, tortured, and killed by law enforcement.
She says the situation applies to Black Americans throughout the country, as they are part of an ethnic group that the police force treats unfairly. She further explained, “Black Americans know the risk of unjust imprisonment and physical harm all too well.” She even claims that the US’ human rights records shows that it is no better than that of countries that persecute religious and ethnic groups within their own borders.
She added that black persecution is alive and well in the US, as although “African Americans make up just 13 percent of the population, they account for more than 31 percent of people killed by police in 2012 alone.”
Jorjani states that although the United States claims to be a country that protects refugees and not produces them, it still has a long way to go to completely eradicate racial injustice and violence.
She added that she didn’t need to go far back 400 years ago when slavery, segregation, and lynching was common. Instead, the current system of racist policing, selective prosecution, and mass incarceration speaks for itself.
“America is dangerous for black people.” She says, “Black Parents live with an ever-present fear that their children will become victims of stain violence and terror on the basis of race.”
Critics, on the other hand, say that Jorjani fails to see that the figures she is presenting reflects how many black people make terrible decisions that eventually lead to their incarceration and death at the hands of police officers. Additionally, they say that Jorjani also fails to mention where exactly black people would seek refuge, if they are considered refugees in the United States.