Africans Knock on America’s Door

By Dave Seminara | WSJ

The left keeps saying America is systemically racist and President Trump is a white supremacist. So why do so many black Africans want to immigrate?

On Sept. 4 the State Department released statistics on the green-card lottery, a good gauge for U.S. visa demand because anyone with a high-school diploma or specialized work experience is eligible to apply. For fiscal 2020, the number of applicants from 47 eligible Sub-Saharan African nations was 9.2 million, compared with only 2.8 million in fiscal 2011.

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Residents of the countries that send the most immigrants—including Brazil, China, India and Mexico—may not apply. Hopefuls apply in the fall and receive their visas a year or more later, so fiscal 2011 applicants would have applied in the fall of 2009. Nigeria, the lone African country excluded from the program, was eligible until 2015. Between fiscal 2010 and 2016, an average of 14.9 million foreign nationals in all registered for the annual lottery. From 2017 and 2020, the average figure was 21.9 million a year.null

The Trump administration, which has sought to eliminate the program, recently tightened its eligibility requirements, and subsequently applications for the fiscal 2021 program sank to 11.8 million. Lottery winners who didn’t obtain visas because of Trump’s June moratorium on immigration sued, and a federal judge ordered the State Department to resume processing visas. A group called African Communities Together is also suing over a new requirement that applicants have valid passports. The application period for the 2021 program was last fall, so there’s no connection to this year’s racial unrest, and the dip is likely attributable to the new application requirements.


Clearly most aspiring immigrants from Africa don’t buy the left’s thesis that America is a racist country. Why should they? By most measures African immigrants are successful. Pew Research reports that African immigrants are more likely than Americans overall to have a college degree, and a recent study from the University of Kansas reveals that their labor-force participation rate is 73%, 10 points higher than that of the overall population.

By some measures, Nigerians are the most successful immigrant group in the country. Fifty-nine percent have a college degree, more than double the population as a whole; and in 2018 their median household income was nearly $7,000 higher than the average.

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If leftists really believed America is a hostile, dangerous place for nonwhites, wouldn’t they be warning potential immigrants from Africa and elsewhere not to come?

Mr. Seminara is a journalist and former diplomat. He is author of “Bed, Breakfast & Drunken Threats: Dispatches From the Margins of Europe.”

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