Panic as 30,000 Kenyans face deportation under Trump regime


Maasai youths follow the US presidential election updates over the radio yesterday. [photo/AFP]
More than 30,000 Kenyan citizens illegally in the US could be on their way home if President-elect Donald Trump makes good his campaign threat to deport illegal immigrants.

Also, beneficiaries of Government support programmes to fight diseases such as HIV and Aids and starvation could be exposed in Mr Trump’s lacklustre foreign policy for Africa.

And back home, it could mean the end of the road for thousands of young people from poor backgrounds hoping to study in the US under Government scholarships, which the incoming President has sworn to eliminate immediately he takes office.

Trump, who registered a landslide victory against his main rival, Democrat Hillary Clinton, has ruled out offering a path to citizenship for unauthorised immigrants.

His tough immigration policy means that the large number of Kenyans, making up a 10th of the unauthorised settlers from sub-Saharan Africa in the US, will be sent back home.


“For those here illegally and are seeking legal status, they will have one route and only one route; to return home and apply for re-entry under the rules of the new legal immigration system,” Trump said on his campaign trail.

He has been quoted by American media as having repeated this stance after clinching victory yesterday.

Discussions on social media platforms among people thought to be unauthorised Kenyans living in the US point to panic and anxiety.

The elimination of unauthorised immigrants, most of whom entered the US through student or visiting visas that have since expired, is top on Trump’s agenda to “Make America Great Again”.

A special deportation force would be put together in the initial days following his swearing-in and inauguration scheduled for January 20, 2017.

At least 11 million undocumented immigrants, more than half from neighbouring Mexico, are expected to be flown to their countries of birth.

Kenya is among the countries that have significant immigrant populations in the US at over 90,000 by 2014, a third of whom are illegal immigrants. This is according to findings presented by Pew Research Centre.

About 80 large commercial passenger jets will be required to return prospective deportees to Kenya; their number exceeds the capacity of Nyayo National Stadium.

A more recent study released by the same firm in September showed that Kenyans contributed the third largest portion of illegal immigrants in the small state of Delaware, after Mexico and India.

It reported that eight per cent of the illegal immigrants were Kenyan, half from Mexico and a quarter from India.

automatic citizenship

The deportation, which Trump has vowed to execute at the cost of the subjects, could have far-reaching implications for families considering that any children born on US soil qualify for automatic citizenship.

Kenyan citizens living in the US are a major source of remittances sent to support families back home, estimated at Sh60 billion from the US and Canada in 2015 alone.

New concerns may also arise from the trade policy position taken by Trump who has said he would, on taking office, scrap several pacts, which he feels are detrimental to the US economy.

Of interest to Kenya would be the Africa Growth Opportunity Act (Agoa), which grants poor countries from the continent quota-free and duty-free access to the US market.

Trade Permanent Secretary Chris Kiptoo yesterday said the Trump presidency was unlikely to alter Agoa in its current form given that it was initiated by President George Bush who is a fellow Republican.

“I see the delay of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) as a major plus for Kenya,” Dr Kiptoo said, citing that the decision locked out potential competition from countries like Vietnam, which also produces textiles and apparel.

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  1. LWK says

    Dear Standard Media Editor,
    What you are doing is like yelling fire in a crowded theatre. Your attention-grabbing headline is not helping your readers to cope in a sensible way but is causing fear where there may be no need for such a thing. First of all, logically we would like to know how you know there are 30,000 illegal Kenyans in the US and if you do know, how? Also, if you did know that, why didn’t you warn them prior to the election of Mr. Trump since now you are handing them on a silver platter which is not a nice thing to do to your readers. Also, Mr. Trump is most likely talking about people who walk across US borders into Texas, Arizona, or California, not Kenyans who fly to the US legally and then accidentally can’t get back home because they run out of money or are students who stay an extra year to work (which is legal if they finish a degree and apply for a legal work permit and then look for a graduate school. There are legal options beyond creating panic because of some nonsense that someone is saying without knowing the law or the ways to stay legal. Also, Mr. Trump was most likely talking about deporting people who are up to no good and who really don’t like American anyway–meaning those with ties to terrorist organizations. Now in that sense, I can see why you might be panicking because Kenya probably doesn’t want those sort to be sent back to Kenya because then the Standard would have a problem on its hands to have to deal with real trouble, not trouble you are cooking up for the sake of sensationalism.

  2. peter Kibet says

    I know Trump leadership will actually have some impact not only Kenya but worldwide.let’s prepare to receive our brothers and sisters back home,those who went there in name of making visit,studying or even hustling.

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