In a move that brought heartbreak, fear and consternation among immigrants, especially Africans living in the U.S., the Trump administration recently expanded the U.S. Muslim ban to include Nigeria, Sudan, Eritrea, Tanzania, Myanmar and Kyrgyzstan. The ban is scheduled to go into effect on February 21.
The new ban met with concerns from U.S. diplomats and economists that barring citizens from countries such as Nigeria from immigrating to the U.S. could be damaging to U.S. economic interests. It appears that President Trump has chosen race or racial prejudice over economic concerns.
“This President continues to deliver on his bigoted 2015 campaign promise to ban Muslims from coming to the United States,” said Zahra Billoo, executive director at CAIR SFBA. “His attacks on religious liberty have given way to outright White nationalism.
“We have seen, in the most heartbreaking stories, that cancer, life support, and even death are barely means for overcoming the ban and reuniting families,” said Billoo. “Though the Supreme Court has permitted the ban to move forward thus far, Congress must pass the No Ban Act to end this policy once and for all.”
Incidentally, President Trump signed the measure the day before the beginning of Black History Month in the U.S. The measure will prevent immigration to the U.S. altogether from Nigeria, Eritrea, Myanmar, and Kyrgyzstan. The new ban allows people from those countries to visit but does not allow them to live in the U.S. on a temporary or permanent basis.
Citizens from Sudan and Tanzania will not be allowed to apply for the diversity visas, better known as the green card lottery. It is estimated that approximately one million people in the U.S. will be affected by the ban. According to W.Gyude Moore of the Center for Global Development, the ban will affect nearly a quarter of the 1.2 billion people on the African continent.
“Trump’s travel bans have never been rooted in national security. They’re about discriminating against people of color,” Senator Kamala Harris, the former Democratic presidential candidate, declared in a statement last Sunday responding to the ban. “They are, without a doubt, rooted in anti-immigrant, White Supremacist ideologies.”
A Nigerian group, the Association for Credible Leadership in Nigeria (ACLN), has started a change.org petition against the ban. The petition states, “With this new travel ban in effect from February 21st 2020…U.S. citizens looking to bring over children, parents or siblings will no longer be able to do so. Also, partners or spouses of American citizens will no longer be able to immigrate to the U.S.”
Nigeria, which has the largest population in Africa, is only one-third Muslim with a very large Christian population. Under the ban, Christian Muslims would also be denied U.S. residency.
“This ban started with the President’s clear remarks that he wanted to ban Muslims from coming in,” said Jaylani Hussein of CAIR Minnesota. “He is a man of his word. He doesn’t just disrespect us, he also creates policy. It seems he is targeting African Muslims.
“Wherever I go, I see people who are impacted,” Hussein said. “I know people who got married and can’t bring their spouses here because of the ban. It also affects countries where people are not under the ban. These are some of the consequences. Children are afraid that if they are born here their parents could be deported.”
“He is saying my parents shouldn’t be American,” said a representative from the Black Alliance for Just Immigration.
“This is nothing more than a continued attempt by the Trump administration to criminalize Black migrants and Blacks overall and limit their political power. It comes in the midst of America’s ongoing intervention and militarization of the African continent, which is creating the conditions fueling the migration in the first place,” complained Nigerian American Ola Osaze of the Black LGBTQIA+ Migrant Project (BLMP).
President Trump has referred to some Third World countries as s***hole countries, which resulted in Trump being widely labeled as a racist. Trump also is on record for having disparaged Nigerians, complaining that Nigerian visitors would never “go back to their huts” in Africa.
The U.S. government has justified the ban by claiming that it is important for national security and that the countries included in the ban have not met U.S. security standards.
The “Muslim Ban” or Executive Order 13769, titled “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States,” was signed in January 2017, subsequently banning travel to the U.S. from Iran, Iraq, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen. The ban at the time suspended entry of all refugees into the U.S. for 120 days and barred refugees from Syria indefinitely. It prohibited nearly all citizens from Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia, and Yemen from entering the United States for 90 days.
However, the ban was successfully challenged in U.S. courts, which issued a restraining order that lifted the ban until the U.S. Supreme Court in June 2018 upheld a third version of the ban. This effectively made it legal and included allowing the U.S. to ban certain people from Venezuela.
The initial Trump ban was preceded by a similar ban imposed by the Obama administration in 2015, which targeted the same seven countries and limited their ability to travel to the U.S. The Obama ban included provisions that restricted travel to the United States for people who lived in or visited Iran, Iraq, Sudan or Syria since March 2011.
“In a moment of historical suspension of the Constitution, this Supreme Court ignored a great deal of precedence,” explained Hussein. “The courts are not the greatest hope of the people. Congress has to battle this on the ground and with the people.”
“His expanded Muslim Ban is not about national security,” said Eric Naing, a Burmese American who works with the advocacy group Muslim Advocates. “It is about controlling who gets to be an American.”
Mel Reeves was the community editor at the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder until he passed away on January 6, 2022. He had a long and storied history working at the MSR.
Find more about Reeve’s life and legacy here: spokesman-recorder.com/category/remembering-mel-reeves.