Expanded travel ban is dangerous for Nigerians

President Donald Trump barred issuing visas to people from different African countries.

I rolled my eyes when I first read the headline of a news story that started with “Trump’s expanded travel ban…” 

Knowing President Donald Trump’s stance on immigration, it was not a complete surprise, but I didn’t expect one of those countries included in the ban to be Nigeria, my home country. 

On Jan. 31, Trump announced an expansion of his travel ban that would bar issuing immigrant visas to citizens of Nigeria, Myanmar, Eritrea and Kyrgyzstan, Politico reported. Trump’s ban also prevents citizens of Sudan and Tanzania from receiving diversity immigrant visas, which provide a chance to gain green cards to individuals from countries with historically low immigration to the United States.

Beginning Feb. 22, Nigerians will no longer be able to obtain visas allowing them to immigrate to the U.S. permanently, CNN reported. While they can still travel to the U.S. temporarily, this law makes it harder for Nigerian immigrants to settle and live in the U.S.

In an age of increasing immigration restrictions, the Nigerian travel ban is both surprising and expected at the same time. But the most recent expansion of the travel ban is a racist attack on people from a country that doesn’t pose a threat to the U.S., and circuit courts need to veto this executive order.

With the first version of Trump’s travel ban — which barred immigration from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Yemen, and Syria, North Korea and Venezuela, CNN reported — we saw families torn apart and deported, or their visas denied in recent years. Thinking about this new, expanded travel ban, I fear the same thing will happen.

“I was not surprised,” said Narayan Felix, a junior global studies major and vice president of Society for Emerging African Leaders. “It is expected because it’s part of the narrative that immigrants are taking our jobs, and with Nigeria making up a majority of African immigrants in the U.S., it’s easy for them to be labeled as scapegoats.”

In issuing the travel ban, Trump cited the countries’ “willingness or inability” to share sufficient information about criminal and terrorism data and to install enough electronic passport systems, Politico reported. 

Nevertheless, very few individuals from those countries have attempted or committed attacks on U.S. soil in the past forty years, and therefore there is no national security justification for this ban, according to the Cato Institute. Simply, this travel ban is unfounded and racist.

Hafeezat Bishi, a junior communications and social influence major and external liaison to Society for Emerging African Leaders, found out about the travel ban from her friend.

“My friend sent me the article, and my first reaction was ‘Are you kidding me! Why?’” Bishi said. 

Nigerians constitute the largest population of African immigrants living in the U.S., according to a 2017 report by the Pew Research Center. There were 20,000 Nigerians living just in Southeastern Pennsylvania in 2019, WHYY reported. 

Nigerian individuals in Philadelphia may find themselves isolated now that they can’t file for their spouses or family members to come to stay with them in the U.S. 

Because of this travel ban, many Nigerian families will be torn apart by distance.

“It’s sad because a lot of Nigerians who immigrate here immigrate alone with the intent of filing for their family later on,” said Monsurat Dayo Otolorin, a senior public health major. “The fact that they can’t do that is really upsetting if they pay taxes and are citizens.” 

Otolorin was hoping to bring her brother to the U.S., but she’s saddened by how this ban could affect that, she said.

Nigerian immigrants deserve to live in this country with their families and have a normal life. Restricting permanent visas to Nigerians is only going to tear families further apart and affect the different Nigerian communities in the U.S. 

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