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Letter to Barack Obama, President of the United States - Africa Immigration Issue

Yesterday, Representatives José E. Serrano and Yvette Clarke sent a letter to the White House along with 35 of their fellow Members of Congress urging the President to add immigration topics to the agenda of the upcoming U.S. -- Africa Leaders Summit. The full text of the letter and a list of the signatories is below:

June 16, 2014

The Honorable Barack Obama
President of the United States
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500

Dear President Obama,

We would like to applaud you for taking the step to host the U.S. -- Africa Leaders Summit in Washington, D.C. on August 5 and 6, 2014. Strengthening the partnership between Africa and the United States is of the utmost importance to the future prosperity and security of our peoples. The proactive steps your Administration continues to take in the name of cooperation and mutual development deserves the full support of Americans and their elected officials in Congress.

This summit is an important opportunity to bring diverse constituencies together to discuss policy issues and to better develop ties between the United States and the 47 African nations invited to the conference. Unfortunately, we have been saddened to learn that the summit does not intend to spend significant time focusing on an issue that we believe is vital to our policies in Africa: immigration reform. We believe that inclusion of this topic for discussion at the summit will strengthen the ties between all the parties involved, and will help bring to light the need for comprehensive immigration reform across a wide number of constituencies.

According to the most recent census, foreign-born African immigrants represent over 1.6 million individuals residing in the United States. Throughout our history, immigrants from Africa have played an important role in revitalizing neighborhoods, starting small businesses, and improving local economies. The African community is an indispensable element of American culture and society, and continues to contribute to the prosperity of our nation.

However, our current immigration policies have had a negative effect on immigrants from African nations. Family immigrant visa backlogs, problems in asylum and refugee processes, student visa issues, and our ongoing deportation policies have created great difficulties for African immigrant communities. These concerns have serious financial and familial consequences for all involved-- whether here in the United States or in the countries invited to the conference.

Many of your previous meetings with leaders of other nations have included a discussion of the need for comprehensive immigration reform. We believe that such a discussion at the U.S. - Africa Leaders Summit will help better coordinate policies and improve relationships between all of the parties involved. We urge you to include and prioritize the need for comprehensive immigration reform at the upcoming summit.

We appreciate your consideration of our request, and sincerely hope that your administration will allow for a sincere conversation regarding immigration reform during the upcoming summit.

Sincerely,

Rep. José E. Serrano

Rep. Yvette D. Clarke

Rep. Barbara Lee

Rep. Rubén Hinojosa

Rep. Gwen Moore

Rep. Luis V. Gutiérrez

Rep. Tony Cárdenas

Rep. Bobby L. Rush

Rep. Grace Meng

Rep. Albio Sires

Rep. Charles B. Rangel

Rep. Judy Chu

Rep. John Lewis

Rep. Steven Horsford

Rep. Corrine Brown

Rep. James P. McGovern

Rep. Donald M. Payne, Jr.&

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee

Rep. Chris Van Hollen

Rep. Raúl Grijalva

Rep. Henry C. "Hank" Johnson

Rep. Marcia L. Fudge

Rep. Mike Honda

Rep. Jared Polis

Rep. Frederica S. Wilson

Rep. John Yarmuth

Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton

Rep. Loretta Sanchez

Rep. Alcee L. Hastings

Rep. Gregory Meeks

Rep. Hakeem Jeffries

Rep. Joe Crowley

Rep. Keith Ellison

Rep. Jim McDermott

Rep. Robert C. "Bobby" Scott

Rep. Michael E. Capuano

Rep. Mark Takano


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