Photograph — EPA

The reality of the new immigration laws by Trump’s government of United States of America is beginning to take a new shape as it affects other countries. People had initially thought the only set of immigrants that would be facing serious vetting if allowed into the US are the immigrants from the seven blacklisted countries. However, a recent bad-tempered treatment meted out on a Nigerian shows that the present paranoia that permeates the relationship of America with the rest of the world is not limited or restricted to the seven blacklisted countries.

Celestine Omin is a Nigerian software engineer, one of the very talented ones to get the chance to work with an international agency. Omin has for the last six months been working with a New York city-based tech start-up to build a Javascript application. Needing his immense talent on ground, the company arranged for his visitation to the United States for a better collaboration and environment to drive a successful operation.

Omin finally left the shores of Nigeria for the United States on Sunday 26th February, on a work trip to the US, not seeking to run away from his country. He is by no means an immigrant. After 24 hours on the plane, he arrived Trumpland, very tired, and seriously needing a rest. But what he met at the JFK International Airport slapped reality back into him, giving him a sense of being away from home, on a foreign land a place where he would have to prove his sanity, his humanity before he would be accepted.

Twenty minutes after arrival and having undergone the routine check, Omin was led to a room for a suspicious round of questioning about his profession which would understandably make anyone look a threat. He was made to sit in the room for another hour before the never-before-heard test came. He was going to be tested to see if he truly was a software engineer. And to determine that, they got him a couple of googled up question. Confused, tired from the journey, Omin found it quite hard to think, but still, could provide technical answers to the questions, answers that any other software engineer would flow with. Although, Celestine says he suspected “the customs official interrogating him wasn’t technically trained and couldn’t understand his answers.”

Omin was finally allowed to go after US Customs officials put a call through to Andela and First Access and got an approval of his identity. Nevertheless, to the immigration officer, Omin was still not convincing. Whatever he meant by that, we would not know.

For an average foreigner going into the US, one should not just worry about getting into the country legally; one now has to worry about looking convincing to immigration officers. We would not know if the new “ad-hoc rule” is restricted to blacks or to every other people. Whatever it is that it means, everybody, not just the blacklisted countries, will be finding it difficult to go into the US, whether legally or not. This is the reality of Trump’s paranoid immigration laws.

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