The Planned US Travel Ban – The Nigerian Diaspora Remittance Under Siege

The Planned US Travel Ban – The Nigerian Diaspora Remittance Under Siege

A new list has emerged of countries that the Trump administration is considering adding to the already existing ones on its travel ban. The controversial travel ban came into play as soon as Trump assumed office, and it affected mainly Muslim countries.

It has been three years since the travel ban took effect and according to Politico, White House will announce the additions to the list on the third anniversary of the original order. The new list of countries cuts across three continents: Sudan, Tanzania, Eritrea, and Nigeria in Africa; Kyrgyzstan and Myanmar in Asia; Belarus in Europe.

According to the Wall Street Journal, “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 US, but could have restrictions placed on specific types of visas.”

What is not clear is the reason behind the selection of the recent countries enlisted. The first list of countries under the travel ban has been made up majorly of Islamic nations on the basis that they foster and harbor terrorists who would eventually get to the United States and cause mayhem.

Trump signed the original travel ban on Jan. 27, 2017. But the order was met with severe opposition and court challenges, forcing the administration to modify the list. The Supreme Court eventually allowed a third iteration to go into effect, restricting Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen along with North Korea and Venezuela from entry into the US. The amendment removed Chad from the original list.

Trump administration has firmly defended the travel ban. White House spokesman, Hogan Gidley said the original ban has been to protect Americans from terrorists, but refrained from saying anything about the motive behind the new ban.

“The travel ban has been profoundly successful in protecting our country and raising the security baseline around the world. 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 US 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,” he said.

The new list is made up of countries that do not fall in the same category with the first; some of them are notably in good relationship with the US. The intriguing turn of events has raised some questions that its answers could be found outside the alibis of terrorism.

For instance, Politico noted that “Nigeria is a US counter-terrorism partner and the country has a large diaspora community in the United States.” Evidently, the faux behind the move has gone beyond terrorism and bilateral ties. Politico pointed out that in the past, Trump has made reference to Nigeria as a sh..hole country who he doesn’t want their citizens in the US.

The New York Times once quoted Trump saying: “If Nigerians come to the US, they will never go back to their huts in Africa.” There is an indication that the indictment of Nigeria is as a way of Trump getting back to Buhari for the excesses of his administration concerning human rights, free speech and religious tolerance. It could be recalled that in 2018, during a White House meeting between the two presidents, Trump has warned Buhari that if the religious persecution of Christians in Nigeria doesn’t stop, he will do something about it.

However, US travel ban is a development that Nigeria will find hard to cope with now. The country’s economy has been for long augmented by remittances from diaspora. According to data published by the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics (NBS), Nigeria received $96.5 billion in remittances from diaspora in 6 years. The highest volume came in 2018 at $25.08 billion, signifying 126% increase in 6 years.

The remittances represent 5.74% of Nigeria’s GDP as at 2018. Analysis  by PWC shows the inflow will like rise from $25.08 billion in 2018, to $34.89 billion in 2023. The inflow came mostly from Nigerian residents in the United States. The projected increase by 2023 was based on the number of Nigerians who are likely going to leave Nigeria in search of greener pastures in developed countries, mainly the US.

Although the restriction will make room for some types of visa applicants, with a travel ban in place, the future spells doom for dreamers whose hope for a better life depends on immigration to the United States, and for Nigerian Government whose economy is a beneficiary of Nigerian immigrants in the US.

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