New York, U.S. – April 16, 2019: The Trump Administration is reportedly planning a crackdown on several countries whose nationals overstay their visas in the United States.
The Wall Street Journal newspaper citing Administration officials say as part of a toughened immigration policy, the Trump Administration is moving to limit the number of visa offered to nationals from Liberia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Chad and Eritrea. The Administration may also offer shorter visa stays.
The Wall Street Journal quotes an official White House spokesperson Hogan Gidley as saying the Trump Administration is considering prioritizing the plan “to reduce overstay rates for visas and the visa waiver program—and it’s well known that the administration is working to ensure faithful implementation of immigration welfare rules to protect American taxpayers.”
The countries are said to be “on notice” unless there is a change in number of their nationals who overstay their visas.
If implemented, the curb in issuance of visas to nationals to the African countries named means it will become harder to obtain such visas. Globally, countries are already seeing denial of visas from U.S. Consular offices for travel to the United States. A popular destination of nationals of the African countries named is the United States where large populations reside as permanent residents or have become U.S. citizens.
The debate around immigration has intensified the past few years on the Western Hemisphere.
South African Refugees photo courtesy of CFR
In fact, it has become a prominent conversation that has seen the rise of far-right politicians who owe their success to anti-immigration populism.
Migration is not a new phenomenon.
For as long as the world has existed, beings have been moving around. The current conversations around migration are not much about the fact that people move but more about the fact that poor and vulnerable citizens of developing countries are migrating to so-called rich nations in search of safety, security, and prosperity.
From Syrian refugees that are escaping a bloody civil war and are stranded at the gates of Europe, to African migrants that die by thousands in the Mediterranean in their attempt to reach the “colonizer’s land” to the Latin American migrants that are arrested and separated from their children at the border of the United States and Mexico, sad and disheartening are the stories of migration that have dominated mainstream and social media the past months.
Illustration – courtesy of UC Davis Poverty Center
Amid such devastating news that make one regret belonging to this antipathic generation, very little is said about the millions of people who migrate within their continent and region. In Africa for instance, 92% of migrants go to another African nation. The remaining 8% are divided among other continents with less than 3% making it or attempt to make it to Europe.
The “conflict-torn and property wretched continent “ whose people despite all the past decades of imperialist attacks and pillage have demonstrated an unparalleled form of resilience and are still progressing economically at a faster rate than any other continent in the world has been welcoming far more immigrants from Asia and Europe than it is sending out.
It is understandable that western nations reject taking their share of the blame when it comes to exploiting other nations, causing and feeding conflicts that leave millions of people displaced and puts their lives in jeopardy. Nonetheless, the hypocrisy of the West lays in the argument of the fascists and the racists who claim vehemently that they are being invaded by other races and soon enough, they will lose their identity.
Poverty Map of Africa photo – courtesy of Behance
First of all, culture and identity are dynamic. The French culture today was not the same a century ago and the American one wasn’t the same half a century ago. No one can stop identities from changing and drastic immigration policies motivated by the fear of the unknown and hatred toward the most vulnerable and the poor will not save the West from losing its contemporary identity which in a few decades or centuries might look gregarious to the future occupants of this planet.
The West does not have anything against migrants but it has everything against poor people.
The American President Trump made it clear that their country wouldn’t mind receiving Norwegian migrants and when a former president of France Nicolas Sarkozy talked about “immigration choisie”, their selective immigration process is a way of ensuring that the most educated and the wealthiest migrate to their countries.
The West has always felt insecure and constantly leaves in paranoia. This paranoia has caused humanity two world wars that left millions of people dead. The insecurity of the West pushes it to constantly see a threat in whatever people or nations they are unable to profit from beyond exploiting them physically, economically and politically.
There is this attitude that is intrinsic to western nations which makes them constantly see others as foes they do not just need to compete with but must dominate and control. As a result, they are always seeking to grow their economic, military and political power.
And the poor, undereducated and unskilled migrants are not the kind of people they foresee can help them achieve that. Rather, they see them as a liability and the very selfish and parasitic West that has stolen from every single continent cannot afford to share the massive wealth it has acquired at the expense of billions of people’s dignity whose very existence is threatened by poverty, climate change, terrorism, civil wars all of whom are the direct consequences of the West’s insatiable imperialist conquests and selfish neoliberal politics.
African migrants- courtesy of the Citizen
The media which is the most effective brainwashing tool used by populists to indoctrinate their ignoramus citizens have played a role in depicting migration as a new phenomenon that will eventually lead to the destruction and the fall of the West. A destruction that failed to occur when the same western nations were butchering millions of Africans, Asians, Native Indians for many centuries.
The one thing that the West can never claim as its invention is migration and nothing can the Europeans and their American cousins do to stop it. The exhibition of inhumanity Western governments are getting better and better at will only further alienate them from the rest of the world. A world that they need more than anyone else.
When you are born on a land as dry as Europe, you can’t afford arrogance because everything you own, and use was produced from the resources of other continents. And the sooner the West sucks in its belligerent pride, the better for them because it has more to lose from that hatred than the world has to gain.
Author: Farida Bemba Nabourema is a Togolese human rights and political activist.
The Eurasia Group has released its 2018 Top Risks Group which includes Africa. The following is an in-depth analysis for Africa.
THE “AFRICA RISING” NARRATIVE REMAINS APPEALING, but this year will face a new challenge. The continent’s core countries (Cote d’Ivoire, Nigeria, Kenya, and Ethiopia, among others) have recently demonstrated robust investment climates, and they’ve been generally sealed off from the troubles of the “periphery” (Mali, South Sudan, Somalia, etc.). But in 2018, negative spillover from Africa’s unstable periphery will increasingly spoil the continent’s success stories.
The threat lies in security risks: militancy and terrorism. The dangers posed by Al Shabaab in East Africa and Al Qaeda in West Africa are not new, but they’re set to intensify. Despite losing territory in 2017, Al Shabaab is still carrying out successful one-off surprise attacks and will look to more international targets in 2018. The Islamic State is likely to increase activity in West Africa and expand into East Africa as it is pushed from traditional strongholds in the Middle East.
Countries targeted by militancy and terrorism are more vulnerable than they’ve been in years, and external partners are less able to provide unified support.
Target countries are more vulnerable than they’ve been in years, and external partners are less able to mount a united front of support. Local actors in “core” countries are already suffering from weakened political capacity. Kenya’s government will focus on economic recovery after a prolonged election cycle. Nigeria enters an election season with uncertainty over its current leader’s health. South Africa faces internal political strife. Angola is busy with a fresh leadership transition. Mozambique is still struggling with a years-long debt scandal.
Foreign partners who have helped stabilize weak governments in the past are distracted. In the east, a preoccupied Europe has reduced its salary support for troops of the UN-mandated African Union Mission to Somalia operating in the Al Shabaab hotspot. Across the Sahel, the G5 counterterrorism partnership of Chad, Niger, Burkina Faso, Mali, and Mauritania plans to launch a 5,000-strong force in March 2018. But differences among France, the US, and UN officials will slow the necessary funding, leaving the region at risk, despite an injection of financial support from Saudi Arabia and the UAE.
The growing fragility of Africa’s top performers has several implications. Kenya, Nigeria, Uganda, and Ethiopia face increased security costs at a time when their governments need to reduce spending. A spike in attacks would also undermine foreign investment perceptions already shaken by the election-related violence in Kenya, a growing social protest movement in Ethiopia, and presidential succession uncertainties in Nigeria and Uganda.
Foreign investors may see their assets directly targeted. Tourist and energy installations will be especially at risk. This will put downward pressure on FDI into the continent, leaving development reliant on limited local capital. And the pressure of security-related refugee flows—on countries in the region and in Europe—will not abate, creating a headache for policymakers on both sides of the Mediterranean.
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Liberian beneficiaries of Deferred Enforced Departure also known as DED in the United States may have reason to be apprehensive about their own future given the decision of the Trump Administration to end Temporary Protective Status (TPS) for thousands of citizens from Central America and Haiti.
It can be recalled that the current TPS designation for Liberians was extended by President Barack Obama but now expires on March 18, 2017.
In a memorandum issued on September 16, 2016 to then Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, President Obama directed him “to extend for an additional 18 months the deferred enforced departure (DED) of certain Liberians and to provide for work authorization during that period.”
According to the Memorandum, “Pursuant to his constitutional authority to conduct the foreign relations of the United States, President Obama has determined that there are compelling foreign policy reasons to again extend Deferred Enforced Departure (“DED”) to Liberian nationals who are currently residing in the United States under the existing grant of DED. The President accordingly directed that Liberian nationals (and eligible persons without nationality who last resided in Liberia) who are physically present in the United States, have continuously resided in the United States since October 1, 2002, and who remain eligible for DED through September 30, 2016, be provided DED for an additional 18-month period. See Presidential Memorandum—Deferred Enforced Departure for Liberians, September 28, 2016 (“Presidential Memorandum”).
Note that only individuals who held Temporary Protected Status (TPS) on September 30, 2007, the date that a former TPS designation of Liberia terminated, are eligible for DED, provided they have continued to meet all other eligibility criteria established by the President. The President also directed the Secretary to implement the necessary steps to authorize employment authorization for eligible Liberians for 18 months, from October 1, 2016 through March 31, 2018.
According to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), “Temporary Protected Status (TPS) is a provisional immigration status granted to eligible nationals of designated countries suffering the effects of an ongoing armed conflict, environmental disaster, or other extraordinary and temporary conditions. During the period for which the Secretary of Homeland Security has designated a country under the TPS program, beneficiaries are not required to leave the United States and may obtain employment authorization.
TPS does not lead to permanent resident status, however, when the Secretary terminates a country’s designation, the alien will return to the status he/she had prior to TPS or to any other status he/she may have obtained while registered for TPS.”
In the case of Liberia, since 1991 the U.S. granted TPS to thousands of Liberians citizens who fled the brutal civil war.
Liberians in the U.S. benefitted from a series of extensions to their initial TPS designation until expiration on September 28, 1999 based on a determination of the then U.S. Attorney General the late Janet Reno who stated that “Based upon a more recent review of conditions within Liberia by the Departments of Justice and State, the Attorney General finds that conditions no longer support a TPS designation. A Department of State memorandum concerning Liberia states that “[t]he divisive civil war in Liberia which began in 1990 ended with the Abuja Peace Accords in 1996. Since 1997, the country in general has not experienced ongoing armed conflict. In September 1998, violence erupted suddenly in Monrovia. * * * Since then, however, no further general conflict has occurred.” The memorandum also states that “Although conditions in Liberia remain difficult, the overall situation is not sufficiently adverse to prevent most Liberian nationals in the U.S. from returning to Liberia in safety.” It concludes, “The Department of State finds that sufficient grounds to recommend a further extension of TPS for Liberia do not exist. We therefore recommend that TPS for Liberia be terminated on its current expiration date of September 28, 1999.”
Following the expiration of TPS designation for Liberians, then President Bill Clinton, made the determination that for “foreign policy reasons, protection from removal should be extended for a year after that date.” Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) status was extended to Liberians and subsequently extended. The last extension was issued in September, 2016 by President Obama and expires in March, 2018.
According to the DHS, DED is similar to TPS in that it allows aliens of a particular nationality to remain and work in the United States without the threat of deportation. The President issues a DED directive based on his constitutional authority related to foreign policy, whereas the Attorney General has statutory authority to designate a country for TPS.
Apprehension amongst Liberian DED beneficiaries was heightened late on Friday, November 3, when the Washington Post reported that on last Tuesday, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on last Tuesday, dispatched a a letter to acting DHS Secretary Elaine Duke informing her that for over 300,00 nationals of Central America and Haiti, conditions which had been used to justify their Temporary Protective Status in the U.S. no longer existed to warrant the continuation of this designation and protection.
Many of the Central American and Haitian migrants, in addition to their TPS status were allowed to live and work in the U.S.
Reports say scores of Central American and Haitian nationals, in anticipation of the revocation of their TPS status have been making their way north through unofficial border crossings to seek sanctuary in Canada.
Liberian activists and some members of the U.S. Congress have been lobbying the new Trump Administration to continue the extension of DED designation upon expiration in March of next year. However, the Trump Administration has shown no inclination to further extension and protection. Any cue from the new US government can be found in its latest decision to terminate protection of Central American and Haitian nationals when protections end early next year. Another indication of the leaning of the U.S. Government was its decision to terminate the 2014 – 2016 Ebola-related TPS designation in May of this year for some nationals of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.
Many Liberians on DED have put down roots, held long term jobs, purchased homes and businesses and have children and grand children who are American citizens. If DED status is revoked for these Liberian nationals, individuals with no other lawful immigration status on March 19, 2018, will no longer be protected from removal or eligible for employment authorization in the U.S.