A United States professor has warned that it is only a matter of time before the Trump administration’s new immigration policy is extended to the Caribbean.
Professor of American History at University of California, Los Angeles Robin Kelley delivered the third Kamau Brathwaite Lecture at the Cave Hill Campus of the University of the West Indies last night, on the topic Trumpism and The Crisis of Black America.
Referring to the president’s plans to build a wall along the US-Mexico border to keep out illegal immigrants, and the recent ban on citizens from seven predominantly Muslim countries, Kelley cautioned Caribbean nationals that they could also fall prey to the crackdown.
“The thing that we have to keep in mind . . . is that our immigration issue is not just Mexicans and Central Americans; it’s an immigration issue that’s very strong in the Caribbean, with Haiti, the Dominican Republic,” he said, adding, “I don’t see anything good coming out of it.”
The issue of immigration appeared to hit close to home for Kelley, who is the son of Jamaican immigrants.
“I’m a child who graduated from high school in the 1980s, so Grenada, the Grenada Revolution, was something huge for me. Cuba had meaning for me . . . .
“My mother is from Jamaica, and as a Jamaican descendent person . . . whatever hope that [late Jamaican leader] Michael Manley brought, it was a different kind of hope, a different kind of vision than what we saw in the United States. So you have the future in your hands, the question is what can we learn?”
He also made mention of the African American lawyer and activist Randall Robinson, who he said both the Caribbean and the US could learn from.
“He’s someone who wrote about reparations a long time ago when a lot of people weren’t thinking about it. And he also wrote about the reparation that the United States and Britain owed the Caribbean over its exploitation of banana workers. So there’s a lot that we have to learn and figure out, and not see ourselves as isolated. Otherwise we’re all doomed,” Kelley said.