The news broke March 20 that the U.S. State Department had denied visas to 100 Africans scheduled to attend the three-day African Global Economic & Development Summit 2017 at the University of Southern California. The conference, scheduled to begin March 16, was canceled.
The first AGED Summit was held at USC in 2014. According to its webpage, the summit is to “promote bilateral foreign direct investment, international trade, cultural exchange and tourism of and with the 54 individual nations of the continent of Africa.” Delegates from the U.S., Asia, Africa and the African Diaspora representing political, social, business, investment organizations, the arts, cultural associations, education, international trade and tourism organizations were scheduled to attend.
“Our office has worked with this conference for several years now, but this is the first time we have been told that there has been a 100 percent denial of all visa applications,” stated Zachary Seidl, representative for Congresswoman Karen Bass (D-Calif.) “We understand there is typically coordination with the Department of Homeland Security on these determinations, but hope this is an anomaly.”
Seidl wrote in an email message to the AmNews, “Building trade is a win-win for both the U.S. and African businesses that have created many thousands of jobs. It would be a real lost opportunity for doing business with African countries, many of which are some of the fastest-growing economies in the world. If this practice were to continue, I would urge the administration to think about its approach to trade conferences with a long-term view for American businesses.”
Congresswoman Bass is a ranking member of the House Africa Subcommittee.
According to the Voice of America, the State Department said they don’t have to explain why the visas were denied.
“Africans have no rights that have to be respected under this new neo-racist regime,” stated Dr. Leonard Jeffries, the leading Pan-African voice in the U.S. “Over 100 Senegalese were rounded up recently in New York City because they are Muslim. The ballgame has changed.”
Jeffries continued, “White supremacy has reared its ugly head in its new form called Trump, but it is not about Trump. The system is not developed to serve us—voting, money and privileges are being challenged. There is a white agenda in place.”
Jeffries concluded, “This [denial of the visas] is just another opportunity for us to analyze the system that is against us. We need to develop our African, African-American agenda. This is a wake-up call for us.”
“What I am trying to say is that Black leaders should be speaking out about the visa denial of our African brothers and sisters; it should be a priority,” argued Dr. Raymond Winbush of the Institute for Urban Research at Morgan State University. “Black mayors and politicians are too busy trying to be a part of the system. Black people want transformational leadership. We want them to change the system.”
Bill Fletcher Jr., co-founder of the Center for Labor Renewal and a former president of TransAfrica Forum, said, “What we are seeing that different populations believe they can cover their ass by not going against Trump on this undocumented immigrant issue. Unfortunately, with many of our own people, we think we are exempt from this fight. So the tip of the iceberg is going after Muslims and Latinos, but it is clear with this denial of the visas for the African Summit that the real issue is the restoration of the white republic.”
The Black Alliance for Just Immigration sent out a message March 2 concerning a bill by senators Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and David Purdue (R-Ga.) called the RAISE Act, which seeks to significantly restrict family-based visas and to completely eliminate the diversity visa lottery.
“This is one of the most disgusting attacks on Black immigrants to date,” warned BAJI in an email message. “Our research shows that nearly 69 percent of Black immigrants come to the U.S. via sponsorship by relatives or the diversity lottery.”
BAJI is launching a cross-cultural task force that will unite our communities to combat these restrictions, according to its email. The public may join the Visa Taskforce by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.