For Immediate Release
December 14, 2022
Contact Information

Bethelhem T. Negash


Study finds how the Criminal Bill and the Immigration Bill have put more Black people in prison in the United States than were enslaved in the 1800s

(Black PR Wire)  WASHINGTON, D.C. — Black migrants have to simultaneously contend with anti-Blackness in the criminal legal system and the legal status stigma all immigrants must face while navigating a broken immigration and asylum system in the United States, according to a groundbreaking report released today by Black-led and immigrant rights organizations. 

Authored by The UndocuBlack Network, the Movement for Black Lives (M4BL), Law For Black Lives (L4BL), and Black Alliance for Just Immigration (BAJI), the first-of-its-kind report analyzes how doubly punishing the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act (more popularly known as the ‘94 Crime Bill and the 1996 Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IRAIRA) and Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (AEDPA) are for Black folks, and highlight the bills’ combined immense harm especially on Black immigrants.

The analysis reveals a disturbing pattern of mass incarceration and criminalization of Blackness expediting the deportation of 76 percent of Black immigrants on criminal grounds, compared to 45 percent of all immigrants [and] despite making up only 7.2 percent of the noncitizen population in the US. The two bills funnel the prison-deportation pipeline and more than 20 percent of people facing deportation on criminal grounds are Black.

The report highlights how the 1994 Crime Bill has been extensively analyzed and critiqued but less prominent have been the critiques of anti-Blackness built into the US immigration system and analysis of the ways in which immigration policy specifically criminalizes Black people.

To truly begin undoing the harms caused by IRAIRA and to provide a way forward for countless Black immigrants seeking freedom, peace, and opportunity for themselves and their communities, the report offers vital policy recommendations applicable for federal, state and local level. Some of the essential policy recommendations include:

  • Rebalance spending priorities
  • Build community based mobile responses. This is the essence of economic justice.
  • End the retroactive application of '96 bill. End permanent deportation.
  • End mandatory detention.
  • End ICE / police collab programs.

“The U.S. has always criminalized immigration in an effort to control the racial makeup of this country. Similarly the U.S. has and continues to criminalize Blackness. From the inception of slave patrols, Black Codes, the creation of ICE and CBP– policymakers have been devising creative ways to codify state sanctioned violence through the criminal justice/immigration enforcement systems. The existence and passage of laws like the 1994 crime bill and the 1996 immigration reform bill exemplify the reach and consequences of anti-Black policies” said Haddy Gassama, Policy and Advocacy Director at UndocuBlack Network. “There are more Black people in prison in the United States than were enslaved in the 1800s, and that's a direct result of these two laws.”

Read the full report here.