Simon Ateba covers the White House, the U.S. government, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and other financial and international institutions for Today News Africa in Washington D.C. Simon can be reached on firstname.lastname@example.org
Americans dating, engaged or married to Nigerians who remain in Nigeria are scrambling for answers before Trump travel ban goes into effect on Monday.
Over the past 24 hours, TODAY NEWS AFRICA has received several emails of people looking for answers to get their loved ones in the United States before the borders are shut or visas are restricted.
The lack of information on the type of visas to be restricted has left many people wondering whether the travel ban would mark the end of their relationships with Nigerians.
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Some are already thinking of relocating if their loved ones are affected by the visa restrictions of bans.
Several Americans who were trying to get answers from TODAY NEWS AFRICA in Washington DC were left disappointed as this publication does not also know the details of what is to come.
Many wondered whether it would be legal to keep them apart even when they are married to Nigerians and are going through the normal consular processes.
Others who have sent money for visa fees were wondering whether they would be refunded.
President Donald Trump on Wednesday confirmed he would be extending travel bans on additional countries.
“Our country has to be safe,” Mr. Trump said at a news conference at the World Economic Forum in Davos.
President Trump is expected to issue the executive order on the travel ban on Monday.
He is planning to place a travel ban on Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country, as well as Sudan, Tanzania and Eritrea. Other countries to be affected are the Asian nations of Kyrgyzstan and Myanmar as well as the European country of Belarus.
The planned visa restriction, which may be interpreted as an indictment of the Buhari administration’s failure to defeat Boko Haram, respect human rights and protect the rights of Christians and other citizens as Trump demanded during a White House meeting in 2018, comes even as Nigeria has also closed its borders to neighboring countries, saying it was, like Trump also claims, to protect Nigerian citizens and the Nigerian economy.
The Wall Street Journal reported the planned ban on Tuesday, quoting administration officials who have seen the list.
“The administration plans to place visa restrictions on seven new countries: Belarus, Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan, Myanmar, Nigeria, Sudan and Tanzania. The countries wouldn’t all face blanket bans on travel to the U.S., but could have restrictions placed on specific types of visas,” WSJ said.
The Washington Post added that “the administration plans to roll out its expanded travel restrictions on Monday, marking the three-year anniversary of the initial travel ban Mr. Trump signed on his seventh day in office”.
Politico, which first reported the planned travel ban, said a draft being considered by the Trump administration would place immigration restrictions on the seven countries, but not necessarily completely ban all citizens of those nations from entering the United States.
The restrictions could apply only to certain government officials, for instance, or certain types of visas, the newspaper said.
It was not clear what the reason for the ban was, and White House spokesman Hogan Gidley did not provide details about plans to expand the travel ban, but defended the original order.
“The travel ban has been profoundly successful in protecting our country and raising the security baseline around the world,” he said. “While there are no new announcements at this time, common sense and national security both dictate that if a country wants to fully participate in U.S. immigration programs, they should also comply with all security and counter-terrorism measures — because we do not want to import terrorism or any other national security threat into the United States.”
Trump signed the original travel ban on Jan. 27, 2017, about seven days into his tenure.
In that order, the Trump administration said the policy restricting travel was necessary to prevent potential acts of terrorism, explaining that countries on the list did not adequately vet their travelers to the U.S.
The 2017 order initially denied visas to citizens of seven majority-Muslim countries, but was later modified following outrage and court challenges.
Politico noted that “the countries under consideration for the expanded travel ban include some that have either had solid relationships with the U.S., or which the U.S. has courted”.
Politico added: “Nigeria, for instance, is a U.S. counter-terrorism partner and there is a large Nigerian diaspora community in the United States. At the same time, Trump has in the past referred to African nations as “shithole” countries whose citizens he did not want coming to the United States.
“He also once said that if Nigerians come to the U.S., they will never “go back to their huts” in Africa, according to The New York Times”.
Like President Trump who has justified his previous travel bans on the need to protect American citizens, President Buhari said the partial closure of Nigeria’s borders is not caused solely because food products, particularly rice, were being smuggled into Nigeria, but also because arms and ammunition, as well as hard drugs were being ferried into Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari has said.
Holding a bilateral meeting Monday in London at the sidelines of UK-Africa Investment Summit 2020 with President Nana Akufo-Addo of Ghana, the Nigerian Leader said he could not keep his eyes open, and watch youths being destroyed through cheap hard drugs, and compromised security caused by unbridled influx of small arms.
“When most of the vehicles carrying rice and other food products through our land borders are intercepted, you find cheap hard drugs, and small arms, under the food products. This has terrible consequences for any country,” President Buhari said.
He said it was regrettable that the partial border closure was having “negative economic impact on our neighbors,” but added that “we cannot leave our country, particularly the youths, endangered.”