The chair of Ohio’s New African Immigrants Commission says "it just doesn't make a lot of sense" that President Trump could include Nigeria, the native country of a growing number of Columbus residents, in a planned expansion of his travel ban policy.
Trump said this week that he plans to expand what he calls a "very powerful ban" meant to increase national security. While Trump hasn’t publicly released details, a source briefed on the plan told NPR that the expansion will include Nigeria, Sudan, Tanzania, Eritrea, Myanmar, Kyrgyzstan and Belarus.
“Why? What’s the rationale for this?” asks Rosaire Ifedi, a Nigerian immigrant and an associate professor of education at Ashland University.
“Nigeria has been a friend with the United States, Nigeria is a partner with the United States in fighting terrorism and everything you can think of,” Ifedi says. “Nigerians who are in the United States are extremely useful and contributing members of society.”
Ifedi says she’s heard complaints from residents who see Nigeria being added to the list as a continued focus on African countries.
A growing number of native Nigerians have been moving to Central Ohio in recent years. Statewide, a 2018 report from the New Africans Immigrants Commission found about 4,000 native Nigerians living in Ohio.
Among all African immigrants, the commission found “these immigrants are more likely to have undergraduate and graduate degrees than the general U.S. population. Among the most educated African immigrants in Ohio are Nigerians and Kenyans and many of them are well represented in the state’s education, medical, and other professional fields.”
Ifedi calls Columbus’ Nigerian community “very vibrant.”
In a 2018 meeting with Trump, Nigerian president Muhammadu Buhari praised America's help in fighting the terror group Boko Haram. Ifedi says Trump adding Nigeria to his travel ban would be a setback for efforts against Boko Haram.
She says it also be a hardship for native Nigerians who now call Columbus home.
“Many of them would be skeptical of doing back-and-forth business, going home,” Ifedi says.