African illegal immigrants – life in limbo

Illegal immigrants dying at sea is one of many devastating endings of African illegal immigrants to the green pastures. Some would enter into the country of their dreams where it is impossible to change minds before their misery begins.

Whose job is it to stop this inhumane treatment of immigrants? Whose job is it to tell both sides of the story? Undoubtedly, many do survive through migration ordeal, but for one person that made it, how many hundreds were wasted, at sea, at detention centres?

How about if Africans did its part by never to be part of a family member entering illegally – fewer people to throw hate words at on the street.

The subject of illegal immigrant is a tough subject which we all especially Nigerians try hard to avoid talking about – is just sad.

Sometimes, the type of risks that my people take is incredible nerve-racking because when it didn’t go according to plan, too much is at stake.

I got to know Sade in early 2000, she is kind and hardworking just as many Nigerians in the small American city. She came to the US with her husband and both worked hard for everything they had. She had a decent salaried job at a US Bank and on the side she had an African grocery shop, and on top had another website design project – she worked round the clock and had a very big American-style home. Husband was a university professor – All was well.

The couple is the type of Nigerians one wants to associate with as plenty to emulate from their lives, I would stop by her shop sometimes twice a week mostly just to speak Yoruba and to laugh, I have more recent jokes and she fed me with the old ones.

I once had to visit the Immigration Centre to renew my work permit as you were allowed another year or so after studies to work legally in the country. Waiting about to get my work permit card, I noticed some banging upstairs and incoherent noises, the lady beside me said not to worry, those guys were illegal immigrants waiting for verdicts.

Uhmn, was my response. All in the name of Coming to America.

Rachel was Sade’s niece, the kind of niece who loved their big Auntie who lives in the west and tend to believe every word without much questioning.

Sade said to me that she is bringing her niece over to help with the shop, while she focused on the website design project as evening and weekend hubby. Her husband thought the route she was going to take was a very bad idea and that he would not be any part of it.

Rachel was 17 years old and was promised of going to university in America. She did not question any of the processes she was handed to memorise – Auntie knows best.

At the airport thousands of miles away from her Abeokuta home, just five minutes stepping on to the Land of Opportunity – which America is truly is, only that for Rachel it wasn’t – she was put amongst hundreds of people just like her in an immigration prison.

It was a while before I knew what went wrong. I did once visit a lawyer with Sade – all I heard in the meeting was fee negotiations – obscene amount of money to get Rachel out of immigration prison – A young Christian girl who has never been stopped by police before, who failed miserably to recite lies – that sad.

Rachel would have started a decent business with $10k in Nigeria and would for the rest of her life be grateful to Sade or use the same amount to pay her tuition for a state/federal university for four years – hindsight…

In the end, Rachel was moved from one immigration prison to another – never saw America she dreamt of. She was returned home after two years of gruelling fight.

America and other western countries are Heaven for many Africans – literally. However, it is only worth it if one enters legally, there would still be challenges but it will be all worth it.

In this video 2:29 shows Nigerians in Italy. 23:57 shows the life lived in regrets.



Categories: Africa, Nigeria

Tags: , , , , , ,

10 replies

  1. Greetings FK
    This is a complex subject, and you raise many issues (as always).
    With this case of Sade:

    I understand why Rachel followed what her Aunt says. I was raised with undoubting trust in my Aunts and Uncles until an incident occurred that removed the scales from my eyes. This is all too prevalent in Nigerian homes, parents wanting to cast their brothers and sisters in the best possible light, the kids trusting the parents take this on board.

    Why didn’t the wife heed the advice of her husband? She knew that in America you have to ‘play by the rules, so why did she try to go against them?

    Sade’s redeeming quality is that she retrieved Rachel from the system. Some (if not many) would have just disappeared out of sight and abandoned Rachel.

    On the greater topic of illegal migration. To my mind, I would say this, it is not right to impose yourself on others when you are not welcome. Poverty can’t be really used as an excuse, if that were the case then at least 160 million people from Nigeria should all be doing the same thing. I believe in following the laws, and doing what you feel is right within yourself. If people don’t that is entirely up to them.

    I will give you a true story. I know a guy in Australia, I will call him Max (not his real name), he is a Sierra Leonian. I met him in Australia and we were talking on the train. He said he left Sierra Leone, some time back with the intention of getting to Europe . He travelled through Guinea, Mali, Niger and Libya. Once he got to Libya he was detained (this was in the time of Quaddafi). He said whilst in prison he saw illegal migrants that had ‘gone gray’ because they had been waiting so long.

    Whilst in detention in Libya, he filed some papers for asylum. After some years, the UN got back to him and was given a choice of “Canada or Australia”, he chose Australia (this was followed by the traditional thanking of God). He is now a citizen and has completed his degree and is starting his own business (importing goods from China) and is setting his sites on getting a wife from Sierra Leone.

    Australia has a very harsh policy for dealing with illegal migrants, they are detained on an island for long periods of time. This does work, as those who are there haven’t written home to encourage more of their brethren to ‘come on down’ and also become illegal migrants.

    I’ve met many Africans refugees in Australia, mainly from the Horn of Africa (Eritrea, Somalia, Ethiopia) and South Sudan and (West Africans) Liberians and Sierra Leonians, they all arrived legally and applied whilst they were at camps in Africa. So if you are a genuine refugee, there are processes in place. If you don’t agree with the process, you then decide to flout the law, I can’t say I agree with that. To make things worse, people not only break the law, they invite other family members to do the same, when there are legal schemes in place to apply to bring family members ie sponsorship etc.

    My point is that although Max started out illegally, he then took the legal path that allowed him get the life he was seeking.

    You FK have been around the World and returned. You could have easily of ‘gone underground’ and hidden and become illegal, instead you played by the rules and have been able to travel as and when you want. I do not recommend cheating and being dishonest to get what you want.

    Again because this is sensitive many people will duck the matter, thanks for your boldness.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for sharing from experience, it is indeed a very sensitive issue. I watched a youtube video clip about Australia and the immigrants in the Island of Papua New Guinea – it is very sad.

      People will still take the high road, however if they have clear picture of what is likely to be their fate, a few perhaps could think twice before embarking on the journey.

      I don’t think Sade could have left Rachel there because apart from her husband who was against this, her little sister who is in the same town distanced herself from the process so she would not have gotten away from ignoring the poor girl without burning bridges with family for life.

      Max’s case is classic and the ‘thanking God’ and the ‘come on down’ attitude until the property meant for a family of four end up occupying 20 people including under the sink – you think, really, where is living in ilu Oyinbo in this? Sometimes one just have to move along otherwise people misinterpret intentions but is is sad that I think when western government are doing their best to control unwanted immigrants who might be burden on the system – rightly so. Then the family have to be totally transparent too, if you can not come in so you can get a job, then is it really worth it?

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      • FK you are searching questions, which many wouldn’t want to or are able to answer. Do people have standards? What kind of personal values do they hold? Are they living by the motto “the end justifies the means?” To expect an entire family to be transparent is asking a lot, you saw how Rachel’s Aunty was ‘shady’. Some people forget about transparency when all they have on their mind is living in ilu Oyinbo, they don’t care what the price they must pay is. That is the thinking that is widespread. We can’t always get what we want in life, sometimes we must accept that and direct our attention elsewhere… this is a bitter pill that very few are willing to swallow.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Very true jco. I just wish we can talk about reality of this amongst ourselves so people have full picture of what they are getting into and also to see our own government for what they are.

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        • jco – watch this Nigerian guy in Ireland sharing his story as a lost child claiming asylum. Personal story like this is important as it better help people to know what to expect –

          http://www.upworthy.com/lots-of-kids-go-to-ireland-for-a-better-life-but-disappear-he-was-ok?c=reccon1

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          • FK, thank you for the clip.
            Responsible parenting by his father and his uncle. Especially his uncle, who just abandoned him. If he is an ‘uncle’ and is taking the responsibility for the child, he should live up to it. It really is the families problem, not the Irish government. The youth is simply capitalising on the situation.

            Personally, I don’t think that it will deter people. Simply because even though he said conditions are not comfortable, he is still better off than remaining in Nigeria. Physically all his needs are catered for (no issues with drinking water or light, food provided for, comfortable living conditions etc). In his particular case he didn’t have to worry about his safety. In Nigeria, he has few of the physical comforts and all the danger. So all in all, he is better off remaining in Ireland.

            On a strictly personal level, the move paid off, but I don’t think it is right for Nigerians to dump their burdens on others and run-off.

            Liked by 1 person

  2. The sad truth is that it is harder for people who are black regardless of origin to enter America. I recall the stories many immigrants from South America tell about their relatives being detained if they do not have all the money-it costs upwards of $10,000 and more to illegally enter America even with the right skin color, it is always safer for immigrants to enter the states once all the money is raised just in case issues arise so the stories goes. I so often wish Africa was as close to America as Mexico but then again even if it were, would there be a greater chance of entering considering skin tines and hair textures???

    Liked by 1 person

    • That is very true regarding skin tone dictating the right type of immigrants – more obvious in Europe. London, especially can be really interesting when it comes to immigrants, it used to be blacks but then we have Eastern Europeans.

      And that is it – it’s not even cheap… Why would anyone pay so much money for a place you were not even sure you’d get to alive?

      I just wish Nigeria for example can find a way to engage most of these youths rather than leaving them to take the high road that might lead to nothingness.

      Like

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