Feb 1, 2024 - News

Ohio congressional delegation introduces bill to provide protections for Mauritanians

A group photo of African immigrants with Cleveland elected leaders, green wall in background.

Members of Cleveland's Mauritanian and Senegalese community met with local elected leaders at Global Cleveland last week. Photo: Sam Allard/Axios

Sen. Sherrod Brown and a bipartisan group of Ohio's congressional delegation last week introduced legislation to provide additional protections for migrants from the West African nation of Mauritania.

Why it matters: Ohio is home to more than half of the 8,000-10,000 Mauritanians living in the U.S., with the largest concentrations in metro Columbus and Cincinnati.

  • Mauritania was the last country in the world to formally abolish slavery, doing so in 1981, but the practice is still tacitly sanctioned there by the Arab ruling class.

Details: The proposed legislation would provide Temporary Protected Status to Mauritanians in the U.S., shielding them from deportation for 18 months and providing them with work visas as their asylum and immigration cases progress.

What they're saying: "We must act to ensure Mauritanians who have been living and working in the U.S. are protected from the harsh and life-threatening conditions — including slavery — they face if they return to their country right now," Brown said in a statement.

The latest: Members of Cleveland's Mauritanian community gathered with local elected officials at Global Cleveland last week to advocate for the legislation and discuss how local communities can help.

  • Maple Heights Mayor Annette Blackwell, a Global Cleveland board member, said it's important for local mayors to use their bully pulpits to promote workforce and housing opportunities.

💭 My thought bubble: I covered the Mauritanian humanitarian crisis for Cleveland Scene in 2019. You can read that story here.

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