Some Nigerians in the U.S. have expressed concerns over the controversial Executive Order expected to be rolled out this week by President Donald Trump to restrict citizens from certain countries and also put in place stringent measures against all categories of undocumented immigrants.
Nigerians voiced out their concerns during teleconferences organized to equip them with information about the travel ban, to also allay their fears and enlighten them on what to do to avoid falling into President Trump’s immigration trap.
The information sessions, which held twice on Saturday, were organized by two influential Nigerian groups in the U.S., namely the Organization for the Advancement of Nigerians and the Nigerian Lawyers Association.
Some of the concerns raised by the Nigerians included those who have overstayed in the U.S. and were yet to perfect their documentations, and those with different names on their documents due to marriage, divorce or other reasons.
Others were those who have permanent residency, conditional permanent residency, criminal records and those who have money in banks, investments or property, should they be deported under the new immigration policy.
The panel of attorneys on the teleconferences discussed concerns about the Executive Order, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (‘Dreamers’) and the rights of undocumented and documented immigrants.
The attorneys advised those without documentation and who have money and other investments to have contigency plans and seek counsel from financial experts and attorneys.
Green Card holders were advised to avoid overstaying beyond six months if they travelled out of the U.S. or they may risk having their Green Card revoked.
Those with conditional permanent residency were also advised to file the removal of conditions 90 days before the expiry of the card or it would be terminated and the holder would not have any valid status to remain in the U.S., and therefore, face deportation.
Similarly, those who have overstayed and without valid documentations were advised to be law-abiding by avoiding running into troubles like drunk driving or other associated crimes.
Those who have had criminal convictions, were told that this is not the best time to apply for any immigration benefits like Green Card as such record would pop up and they may just be exposing themselves by reminding the enforcement officers that they are illegal immigrants.
Also, for those who have overstayed following the expiration of their visas, the attorneys said such category of people could regularize their stay in the U.S if they have American spouses.
Those travelling to the U.S. were advised against giving immigration or customs officers at the airports their phones’ security codes to unlock the phones, saying the officials have no right to ask for the codes except with a search warrant.
They were, however, advised to download any incriminating records out of their phones to avoid any inappropriate questioning or deportation.
All categories of immigrants were advised to always contact reputable attorneys who understand immigration issues for necessary professional assistance.
The Nigerians with expired visas without criminal records and without any forms of identification were also advised to obtain cities’ identity cards like New York’s, which is valid across the state.
The Nigerian groups also allayed fears that the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials were carrying out raids in New York or mounting check points across the country.
According to them, nobody is conducting raids in New York while check points by ICE officials can only be carried out within 100 miles of the country’s borders.
The two teleconference sessions on Saturday and those sessions held on Monday would be uploaded on their websites, www.oanweb.org and [email protected] to provide handy information.
Mr Olayinka Dansalami, the Chairman, Board of Trustees, Organisation for the Advancement of Nigerians, said the information sessions on the travel ban were the groups’ contributions to the welfare of Nigerians in the U.S.
“It’s just our own way of giving back to our Nigerian community,” Dansalami said.
Mr Francis James, a Member of the Board of Trustees, also told NAN that the groups were always ready to defend and protect the rights of Nigerians in the U.S.
“If other issues come up after Trump rolls out a new travel ban, we will still address them for the benefit of our community,” James said.
The U.S. Government plans to consider almost all illegal immigrants subject to deportation, but will leave protections in place for immigrants known as “dreamers” or anchor babies who entered the country illegally as children, according to official guidelines released on Tuesday.
The revised orders, which are expected to be rolled out this week, after the initial orders, which targeted nationals of seven countries, namely, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Somalia, Yemen, Sudan and Libya, were blocked by Federal Courts.
The Department of Homeland Security guidance to immigration agents is part of a broader plan for border security and immigration enforcement of the executive orders that Trump signed on January 25, but which have generated protests across the country and other countries around the world.