At least 60 Africans have been denied visas into the US

     At least 60 Africans have been denied visas into the US, resulting in zero African atendance to the annual African trade summit held in California from Thursday through Saturday.

    The African Global Economic and Development Summit, which is a three-day conference at the University of Southern California (USC), usually brings delegations from across Africa to meet with business leaders in the US in an effort to foster partnerships.

    This year, however, every single African citizen who requested a visa was rejected, according to organizer Mary Flowers. roughly 60 to 100 people from at least a dozen nations were denied entry to the summit, thereby thinning ot the event's usual attendance.

“I don’t know if it’s Trump or if it’s the fact that the embassies that have been discriminating for a long time see this as an opportunity, because of talk of the travel ban, to blatantly reject everyone...”, she said in an interview on Monday. “These trade links create jobs for both America and Africa. It’s unbelievable what’s going on.”

She further revealed that many of the applicants who were rejected had already registered for the event and paid initial visa fees, but were denied after short interviews – even when they brought extensive documentation, such as bank statements and property records.

       This problem for the trade summit marks the latest example of restricted travel to the US under Trump, whose controversial immigration policies and rhetoric have impacted a wide range of industries and communities. It is also alleged that there has been a slump in US tourism since Trump’s inauguration.

       A spokesperson for the US state department refused any comment on claims of rejections for summit participants, saying in a statement: “We cannot speculate on whether someone may or may not be eligible for a visa, nor on any possible limitations … Applications are refused if an applicant is found ineligible under the Immigration and Nationality Act or other provisions of US law.”

      Flowers is now also in contact with US congresswoman Karen Bass, who represents Los Angeles and is the ranking member of the Africa subcommittee.

      This is not the first time the summit has struggled with visa problems, according to Flowers, who has been organizing the event since 2013. In past years, she said, roughly 40% of interested African participants were denied entry.

     According to Flowers, the rejected participants at the trade summit came from Nigeria, Angola,Ghana, Ethiopia, Cameroon, Guinea,Sierra Leone,   South Africa and more.  Trump’s travel ban covers Somalia, Sudan and Libya in Africa, and citizens from those countries did not seek visas for the event.

Chinelo Okafor

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Chinelo Agatha Okafor

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