Nigerian Americans have reacted with shock, some turn prayer warriors and some dismay and determination after learning their country, Africa’s most populous nation and the source of the largest African diaspora in the U.S., is on the Trump administration’s list of six countries facing travel and visa restrictions set to take effect Feb. 21.
Some see racism and politics at work, but others say they are redoubling efforts to convince the U.S. government that their home country doesn’t belong on the list. The U.S. accepted some 7,900 immigrants from Nigeria in 2018, by far the biggest number for any African nation, virtually all for relatives of American citizens.
The U.S.-based Association for Credible Leadership in Nigeria (ACLN) has started a Change.org online petition to protest the restrictions and called on Congress to intervene.
While the Trump administration has cited safety and security in expanding the travel restrictions, “we strongly condemn this action and consider it a form of discrimination and racism,” according to the petition, which had more than 2,800 signers as of Monday. “There are larger nations like China and Russia, which do not cooperate with the U.S. on the aforementioned [issues], and none of them has been put on any form of ban.”
Olusegun Adeyina, former president of the Nigerian-American Public Affairs Committee in Georgia, came to the United States for his education and has since become a naturalized citizen. Mr. Adeyina said last week on the NPR talk show “1A” that Nigerians have contributed greatly to American society.
“I believe [the ban] is un-American,” Mr. Adeyina said. “We have to rethink our strategy in this country to be inclusive of all people.”
Maryland has the second-largest community of Nigerian Americans after Texas, ahead of immigration magnets such as New York and California, according to a 2016 census survey. For the thousands of Nigerians in the Washington metropolitan area, the ban feels painful and personal.