The United States of America deported a total of 41 Nigerian immigrants on Wednesday, forcefully returning them to their home country aboard a chartered Miami Air International aircraft. American authorities say all the deportees were repatriated for several offences ranging from drug trafficking to the possession of illegal immigration documents.
With over 170 million people, Nigeria is the world’s largest Black nation and Africa’s most populous country. It also boasts the highest population of African immigrants in the United States – a 2006 survey put the number at 266,000.
The 41 deported Nigerians were all male and majority of them were middle aged. Twenty-six of them were deported for police-related offences, six of them were sent home for immigration and documentation problems, and the other nine were alleged to be guilty of drug-related offences.
The first wave of Nigerian immigrants to the U.S arrived in the late 1980’s. Many of them were driven away from home by a mix of economic and political problems and were easily granted asylum. The greater majority of them were young middle-class professionals and intellectuals.
Consequently, many of those early immigrants and their children managed to key into the American dream and went on to become high achievers in their chosen fields or disciplines. Census figures put the number of Nigerian-Americans with a bachelor’s degree at 40 percent; another 17 percent boast a master’s degree, while the remaining 4 percent are doctorate degree holders — more than any other ethnic group in the nation.
Most Nigerian immigrants have settled and continue to concentrate around the U.S. states of Texas, New York, New Jersey, Maryland, along with major metropolitan areas surrounding Atlanta, Ga., and the District of Columbia.
Subsequent migration of Nigerians to the United States through the Diversity Lottery Program (aka the American visa lottery) and other channels has increased the number of Nigerians with questionable character entering the United States desperate to escape the limited opportunities back home.
Many of them enter the country without proper documentation and often enter into a marriage of convenience to acquire a legal immigration status. Without a legitimate migrant status and limited professional qualifications, some easily or reluctantly resort to illegal activities to survive.