U.S. Plans to Slash Legal Immigration; Africa To Be Affected

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The Trump Administration is reportedly moving to slash legal immigration to the United States for the next 10 years. According to news reports on Wednesday from Washington DC, President Donald Trump announced his endorsement of a new Senate bill when he appeared with Republican sponsors Senators Tom Cotton and David Perdue at the White House.

Current level for the issuance of green cards is more than a million for foreign residents. The modified Senate immigration bill will cut that number in half.

The general outlines of the proposed immigration bill which slashes legal immigration by half are in consonance with Trump’s campaign promise to slow the growth of legal immigration to the United States.Image result for us immigration

According to the bill sponsored by the two Republicans, reduction in immigration would be achieved by a “merit-based” system which would cut green cards for extended family members of US citizens and permanent legal residents. The bill will, however, still make spouses and minor children eligible. New immigrants would be barred from social welfare benefits.

In remarks, President Donald Trump said, “…This legislation will not only restore our competitive edge in the 21st century, but it will restore the sacred bonds of trust between America and its citizens.  This legislation demonstrates our compassion for struggling American families who deserve an immigration system that puts their needs first and that puts America first…”

The attempt at limiting immigration to the U.S. is a drastic overhaul of the immigration system by the Trump Administration.

The impact of this new bill will be felt across the globe including Africa.


According to the non-partisan American based think-tank Pew Research Center which informs the public about issues, attitudes and trends shaping American and the world, “…There were 2.1 million African immigrants living in the United States in 2015, up from 881,000 in 2000 and a substantial increase from 1970 when the U.S. was home to only 80,000 foreign-born Africans. They accounted for 4.8% of the U.S. immigrant population in 2015, up from 0.8% in 1970…”

According to the Pew Research Center tabulations of 2015 American Community Survey, Nigeria, Ethiopia and Egypt were the leading African nations of birth for the foreign born population from Africa to the U.S.

Image result for us immigration

The 10 African countries in that Pew survey for populations in the U.S. include Nigeria, Ethiopia, Egypt, Ghana and Kenya. Others are South Africa, Somalia, Morocco, Liberia and Cameroon. Total African born population in the United States from the 10 countries was estimated at about 1.4 million.
Uganda was the least African country with a population of 21,000 in the U.S.

The Pew Research says that “…African immigrants from the sub-Saharan region are also more likely than immigrants overall to enter the U.S. through the Diversity Visa Program – an act passed in 1990 to encourage immigration from under-represented nations. This legislation was initially intended to boost the number of Europeans migrating to the U.S., but many Africans have also benefited from the initiative..”

The proposed bill would end the Diversity Visa Program which, on an annual basis, is awarding about 50,000 green cards to areas in the world, including Africa, whose citizens are under represented in legal migration to the U.S. President Trump held that the bill will
The Washington Post reports that “…Under the bill, the new immigration system would award points to green card applicants based on such factors as English ability, education levels and job skills…”

Image result for us immigration

The Migration Policy Institute, another Washington DC based independent think-thank in May, 2017 reported that “…Most sub-Saharan African immigrants who obtain lawful permanent residence in the United States (also known as receiving a green card) arrive as immediate relatives of U.S. citizens, as refugees, or through the Diversity Visa Lottery. Compared to the total foreign-born population, sub-Saharan Africans were among the best educated immigrants as a group and were less likely to be Limited English Proficient (LEP). Sub-Saharan Africans experienced a slightly higher poverty rate than immigrants overall, but lower uninsured rates…”

A huge advantage of the African diaspora is its middle class status, economic power and support for countries of origin.

Boston University’s Center for Law, Finance and Policy in a 2015 Policy Report said, “…Official migrant remittances to Sub-Saharan Africa are estimated at $40 billion in 2015, and the remittance flows have increased about six-fold since 2000 (The World Bank 2015). Some estimates place informal remittances flows to Africa at double the official estimate. Private remittances constitute the largest source of international financial flows to Africa, with remittances remaining a stable source of foreign exchange for national development (African Economic Outlook 2015).
That is particularly important in the current context of constantly diminishing aid flows from OECD countries to low-income countries in Africa (Ibid). Remittance transfers to Africa are among the costliest of the world. As of 2014, the global cost of sending $200 averaged at around 8% of the sum sent, whereas the costs of sending remittances to Africa remained close to almost 12% (The World Bank 2014…”

World Bank estimates say remittances to African will top over $63 billion dollars in the coming years.

Wim Naude of the UNU Maastricht Economic Research Institute on Innovation and Technology in an article entitled Migration, Remittances and Resilience in Africa says that “…The migration issue is also a priority because remittances from migrants (the transfer of money by foreign workers to their home countries) are recognized as having been an important source of resilience for households in African countries, especially in light of the fact that the monetary value of remittances to Africa now exceeds that of aid…”

The bill, which was floated back in February but failed to gain traction and now revised and if passed into law, will see a significant drop in legal immigration from Africa to the U.S.

By Emmanuel Abalo

Philadelphia, PA USA

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