Can Homeland Secretary nominee Jeh Johnson end border discrimination?

Jeh Johnson, if confirmed by the Senate, will have the task of securing the nation’s borders, but are those borders discriminatory?
Photo: AP

WASHINGTON, October 20, 2013 ― President Obama has nominated former Pentagon attorney Jeh Johnson as the next Secretary of Homeland Security. If confirmed, Johnson will be the nation’s first African-American to serve in that role.

What qualifies Johnson for the job? He served as senior attorney for the largest government agency in the United States. Johnson’s colleagues say that during his time with the Pentagon, he was well known for his sound judgment and strong legal knowledge pertaining to security, which may make his candidacy the right fit.

Johnson recently urged the public to reconsider how America views terrorist activity. He says that twenty-first century terrorism is not necessarily aligned with Al-Qaeda anymore; it could come from anyone. His comment is telling when matched with Obama’s next agenda item for Washington: immigration reform.

The immigration debate is clearly on its way and could be a significant breakthrough for the nation, and could be a test for Johnson, if confirmed. Already on Capitol Hill there have been meetings between Democratic and Republican lawmakers on crafting a legislation that is sound, responsible, but not discriminatory. Furthermore, it’ s been said that the political party that wins over the Latino vote will eventually win the immigration debate and could control the White House for years to come.

Even though this is a national debate that affects millions of Hispanics, in predominately swing states, the debate has somewhat left out the conversation of black immigration. So why do so many black migrants quickly find them left out of the conversation, when they make up 20 percent of immigration in the United States?

The black immigrants, who live mostly in New York, Florida and California, strongly believe that the government is purposefully avoiding them and feel their status is second to that of Hispanics.

SEE RELATED: Immigration Reform: Beyond Hispanic communities

Black immigrants are underrated for the social and cultural diversity they bring to the U.S. On average, about one in four black migrants to the United States are from the Caribbean, Africa or Latin America. Of those born in the Caribbean, most find themselves leaving their native lands to live with family members already residing in the U.S. Since the 1950’s, Latin American and Caribbean migrants have left their islands for a much better life, as we’ve seen through black entertainers such as Harry Belafonte and Sidney Poitier.

Most black immigrants, unlike many of their Hispanic counterparts, enter the United States legally and, because of their education, move directly into the job market. African and Caribbean migrants tend to be better educated than most other immigrants, competing with Asian immigrants, who are often assumed to be the most desirable immigrants for their high-tech skills.

Recently, more Caribbean and African migrants have left their countries and came to the United States to escape genocide and civil unrest as refugees and asylum seekers.

Johnson will have the task of keeping our national borders safe and secure, once confirmed by the Senate. However, part of the role as Secretary of Homeland Security is making sure that all immigrants entering into the U.S. are treated fairly, despite their heritage or ethnicity. Perhaps the Obama administration should revisit “diversity” and stop playing politics with just Hispanic voters.

Much too often, diversity is preached only when it benefits those in power. Yet, the dream of upward mobility towards the American Dream is an essential part of how we Americans like to think of ourselves. Perhaps this is exactly the reason why more people are trying to get into this country than are trying to get out.

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