Updated: March 1, 2021
The reason given by Trump administration for imposing a complete travel ban for immigrant visas (permanent visas) on Nigeria does not make sense, and may even be rooted in racism.
The administration said citizens from Nigeria, Eritrea, Myanmar and Kyrgyzstan won’t be allowed to apply for visas to immigrate to the United States under the new policy.
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They will not be able to apply for visas that can lead to permanent residency, Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf said during a call with reporters on Friday.
Wolf clarified that the targeted visas are distinct from non-immigrant visas issued to visitors, which will not be impacted by the ban.
The Trump administration said the new policy was designed to tighten security for countries that do not comply with U.S. minimum security standards or cooperate to prevent illegal immigration.
Citizens from Sudan and Tanzania will be barred from participating in the diversity visa lottery, the Trump administration said.
The European country of Belarus was dropped from the list of seven countries as previously reported.
The administration said investor visas, which lead to green cards, will also be barred.
But the DHS official said the restrictions will not apply to skilled foreign workers entering the United States on H-1B visas, even though such visas are temporary, but can lead to permanent status in the United States.
He said immigrants already in the United States, or who have approved visas will be exempt from the ban.
However, people with pending visa requests – some of whom have waited years – will be barred.
All applicants will be able to apply for a waiver, a process already in place under Trump’s existing ban. But a federal lawsuit challenging the administration claims the waiver process is opaque and difficult to navigate.
The visa restrictions will not apply to refugees, according to the official. Trump’s administration has separately capped the number of refugees allowed into the United States at 18,000 for the 2020 fiscal year, the lowest level in decades.
The reasons cited above do not make any sense, and may be rooted in racism.
Nigeria is Africa’s most populous nation, and the world’s most populated black country. The problems in Nigeria are usually the problems in all the countries around the world.
Ordinary Nigerians, like in many other countries, are the victims of dictatorship and rampant corruption perpetrated by their leaders, for decades.
Ordinary Nigerians do not also constitute any security threats to the United States, and most Nigerians who apply for American visas are denied. They are often vetted by the U.S. missions in the country, thoroughly. Often, they are denied after paying huge non-refundable fees.
I bet that only 1 percent of Nigerians who apply often get the visa. And not all those who get visas are able to travel to the United States. Most of those who travel here often return home. They do not live here permanently.
Many of those who apply for asylum are often justified. They are legitimate threats, security threats, deliberate targets, political opinions, opposition figures and different other reasons. And most Nigerians who live in the United States live peacefully and honestly.
Even though the news may take one or two bad eggs and use them as scapegoats and label them as representatives of the entire country, the truth is those who engage in crimes are often few.
Besides, you can count only one incident when a Nigerian tried to engage in act of terrorism in the United States. It had not happened before then, and has not happened since then.
But those who engage in terrorism in the United States, including citizens of Saudi Arabia who killed thousands of innocent Americans on 9/11 are not banned.
I believe that if you are to ban people, ban the corrupt leaders, the sponsors of Boko Haram or those who have failed to tackle that crisis, not ordinary Nigerians who are no threats to the United States. I will back a complete ban on leaders who oppress their own citizens, do not respect the rule of law and sponsor terrorism. But not on people who may have genuine reasons and means to relocate to the United States.
And, it’s not just Nigerians, most Africans in the United States, from Cameroon to Ethiopia, from South Africa to Kenya, from Ghana to Guinea, and all others are often peaceful and law-abiding citizens.
Besides, banning Nigerians who may want to immigrate to the United States permanently may be illegal and against the U.S. national interest.
Although the details are not out yet, it seems a general visa ban or restrictions on ordinary Nigerians was ill-conceived.