Trump’s proposed immigration reforms are heinous, but can they encourage Africans to look within?
According to Trump Organisation Executive Vice President and Special Counsel to Donald Trump, Michael Cohen, Donald Trump is a doer. The United States 2016 presidential candidate has been more than vocal throughout his ongoing campaign by stating proposed policies without fear or apology. On Sunday, August 16, he announced and outlined the specifics of his full immigration reform plan, which includes putting up a wall between the U.S. and Mexico, and ending automatic birthright citizenship for children born in the country by illegal immigrants.
The latter has sparked a serious uproar in the country, particularly as a large amount of the population of the U.S. constitutes of immigrants, most of whom have become citizens through birth or naturalization.
The 14th Amendment of the 1868 U.S Constitution automatically considers any child born in the country a citizen, and this applies to children of both legal and illegal immigrants. This amendment has allowed people born under its clause to live and work freely like any other American, and reap other included benefits. But it has also contributed to the influx of peoples from different parts of the world to the U.S. As a matter of fact, Trump claims that birthright citizenship remains the biggest magnet for illegal immigration. On the other hand, lawmakers and scholars are still in disagreement as to whether changing the birthright citizenship policy would require a constitutional amendment.
Making changes to the 14th Amendment is a task that requires the votes of two-thirds of both houses of Congress, and support from three-fourths of the nation’s state legislatures, and is thus not an easy task. However, Trump holds that Americans either have a country, or they don’t, and presses for new standards to be set. Trump’s intention would in fact not be the first attempt at a repeal of the provision of the amendment, as Republicans have pushed, without success since 2011.
Pregnant citizens of various countries in the world travelling to the United States simply to give birth (also known as “birth tourism”), as well as those already living there legally or illegally ensuring that they have their children there so as to secure citizenship, is quite common. Unlike other countries like the United Kingdom, Australia, Germany, France, Ireland, that have modified their laws to discourage illegal immigrants flooding into their country, the United States remains one of the few that still leaves their doors open to birth tourism.
For example, in Sub-Saharan Africa, the trend is very popular. In Nigeria the trend seems to be particularly common with celebrities, government officials, and other professionals. There are an estimated 20 million people with Nigerian descent living abroad, with the majority in the United States and United Kingdom.
When children that have been born under the provision of the 14th Amendment in the U.S. reach the age of 21, they are able to make their parents citizens as well, that is, if that were not citizens previously. Other benefits immigrants seek to enjoy by having children in the U.S. is the purchase of a better life in general for them and their families, which usually includes quality education, healthcare programmes, and well-paying jobs.
Along with Trump’s loud character, and ‘poorly conceived’ policies, as it comes across to a wide variety of groups of people, Americans, as well as other concerned and affected citizens, both in the country and abroad, wonder whether he has thoroughly thought this proposed immigration reform through. He states that the present and continual existence of automatic birthright citizenship contributes to the high unemployment rate with working class Americans and also makes it difficult for them to earn a middle class wage, amongst other disadvantages. These are real concerns of any leader, and as much that any country sees the need to present itself as hospitable and generous to the rest of the world, it needs to take care of its own first.
However, there is a seeming paradox lurking in Trump’s call for the kind of immigration reforms that he proposes. In the 1840s and 1850s, Irish and German immigrants flooded Cincinnati, in the state of Ohio, causing a high level of instability in the society at the time. The German immigrants particularly proved quite a challenging force for natural citizens of the U.S., and this party of people went on to be responsible for the nearly 50 million Americans with German ancestry in the U.S. today, of which Trump is one. If the kind of immigration reforms that Trump wants to characterise the U.S. with were in place in 19th century USA, then he literally wouldn’t even be there now.
Immigration, expatriates, and international commerce are common with most countries, Nigeria inclusive. Considering Trump’s intentions from a different angle, perhaps Nigerians can learn something; Trump’s proposed policy for immigrants – implemented or not – might be a call for Africans to look within and build better options for ourselves.
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