…As Atiku asks him to help Nigeria fight terror
By Victoria Ojeme & Dirisu Yakubu
US President, Joe Biden, has lifted the immigrant visa ban imposed on Nigeria by Donald Trump, his predecessor.
According to the New York Times, Biden reversed the ban on his first day in office and directed the State Department to restart visa processing for individuals from the affected countries.
The visa reverse ban came as former Vice President Atiku Abubakar in statement on his twitter handle, asked newly inaugurated US leaders, Joe Biden and his deputy, Kamala Harris, to support Nigeria’s fight against terror and remove all travel restrictions imposed on Nigerian citizens by the Donald Trump administration.
Bloomberg also reported the action which came through an executive order and would seek a plan to address the people affected.
Trump imposed the ban on immigrant visa issued to those who seek to relocate to the US on Nigeria and six other countries after expanding his controversial immigration policies.
First issued as the Executive Order 13768 of January 25, 2017, the ban was amended several times in the face of numerous court challenges, with the final version barring citizens of seven countries: Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Yemen, Venezuela, and North Korea.
In January 2020, the immediate past US president signed fresh a proclamation that included Nigeria, though not as severe as those for the seven countries covered by the preexisting travel ban.
While it still allowed Nigerians to visit the US, citizens were, for the most part, barred from settling in the US permanently.
Chad Wolf, acting secretary of the department of homeland security, had said the travel restrictions were imposed on Nigeria and six other nations to “address security concerns in the way the banned countries track their own citizens, share information with the U.S. and cooperate on immigration matters”.
But hours after assuming office as 46th president Wednesday, Biden issued an executive order that reversed the travel restrictions, saying ”immigrants have helped strengthened America’s families, communities, businesses and workforce, and economy, infusing the United States with creativity, energy, and ingenuity.”
According to Bloomberg, “the ban that Biden ended blocked entry to most people from Iran, Syria, Libya, Yemen, Somalia and North Korea. It also restricted immigrant visas for people from Nigeria, Kyrgyzstan, Myanmar and Eritrea as well as for certain others from Venezuela and Tanzania.”
It said the new executive order seeks to review other “extreme vetting” practices used by the US under the Trump administration to improve travellers’ information-sharing with foreign governments.
It, however, reported that Biden’s “ambiti-ous” immigration policies, which also seeks an eight-year path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, could face obstacles in congress. Meanwhile, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar yesterday asked President Biden to support Nigeria’s war against terror and remove all travel restrictions imposed on Nigerian citizens by the Donald Trump administration.
Nigeria has since 2009, battled an insurgency across its northeast region and bandit attacks which had been on the increase in recent years.
In a tweet, Atiku said Nigeria has enjoyed good relations with the US since 1961, adding that US support will help nurture the nation’s democracy.
He said: “As @POTUS, @JoeBiden begins his tenure as the 46th President of the United States of America, I am confident that this new era will mark America’s regeneration and her reaffirmation as the beacon of democracy to the world.
“As I congratulate President Biden and @VP, @KamalaHarris, I urge them and their administration to strengthen US-Nigeria ties, and help our beloved nation’s war on terror by providing every type of support required to win our war against the insurgency we face.
“I also look forward to the removal of every travel restriction on Nigerian citizens, in keeping with the good relation that has existed between our two nations beginning with the July 27, 1961 state visit of our first Prime Minister, Alhaji Tafawa Balewa, to President John F Kennedy, and continuing over the decades since then.
“As the playwright, George Bernard Shaw, once said, America and Nigeria are two nations divided by a common language. And millions of Nigerians and I wish to see that relationship sustained to the mutual benefit of both our democratic nations.
“Congratulations once again and may God bless both our nations and bring about a beneficial tenure for your administration.”