A year after Donald Trump became President in 2017, the United States’ Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has deported more Nigerian immigrants than it did in 2016. Trump rode into the White House on the wings of strong “America for Americans” rhetoric. It was suggested that immigrants would be made to leave the country enmasse, but the number of people who have been forcefully deported is actually dropping, except for Africans.
Mexicans, and persons from other South American countries, were the brunt of his attacks during the campaign for the 2016 elections and the reactions to many of comments were furious.
For the top 10 African countries on ICE’s list, deportation has become much realer than a wave of sentiment, removals jumped by 140% to 1815 people removed in 2017, from 756 in 2016
Emigration is viewed by many Nigerians as an opportunity more than anything else. Among the list of choice destinations, America ranks high, along with the United Kingdom and much of Europe.
London has always held more appeal than New York, thanks to the old colonial relationship and proximity.
After the Mutallab incident, the US systemically tightened restrictions on immigration from Nigeria, especially young and middle aged Muslim men.
President Trump’s “shithole comments” regarding immigrants from unspecified countries in Africa, took the whole by storm. But they were not too surprising considering the reputation that his bigoted rants have built on his behalf.
Many African leaders may have been tempted to think it was another iteration of his typical loud mouth but now, the numbers from his administration are implying he is willing to back these words up with action.
In 2017, 312 Nigerians were forcefully removed from the United States, as against 242 persons in the previous year.
This is on top of more stringent visa rules.
The new disposition towards Africans has many worried. It is only natural that Nigerians, eyes set on the outside, are turning to other parts of the map.
In the last decade, Ukraine has become a choice spot for educational tourism. Instead of carefully-planned trips across the Pacific, Nigerians are camping near the Horn of Africa, at enclaves in Zanzibar and Mauritius, on holiday.
With Brexit looming and Europe’s stronger stance against immigration from Africa, inspired by nationalist leanings, the possibility of chasing greener pastures outside the continent is getting slimmer for Nigerians, and the continent.
It makes an already present burden all the more urgent; most Nigerians leave due to less than ideal conditions; a poor standard of education, unemployment and rabid corruption in both public and private life.
Nigeria’s population is expected to increase by over 50% in the next 20 years and with that, its problems will be amplified.
The country already sputters under the pressure of ethnic tensions and a struggling economy. How it prepares for this inevitable future will determine its integrity in coming years.
As it stands, going out to seek fortune and security is out of reach of the average Nigerian. The people will need the country to give them a shot, if they are to take one at making a life here too.