US Visa Applicants Stranded, As Embassy Closes In Abuja, Lagos

US Visa Applicants Stranded, As Embassy Closes In Abuja, Lagos

 By OMONU NELSON 

The supremacy battle between the United States (US) Congress and President Donald Trump, which resulted in government shutdown has taken tolls on visa applicants in Nigeria, as the country’s embassy in Abuja and Lagos have been closed.

Consequently, thousands of Nigerians missed their visa appointments as the embassy closed consular services indefinitely. Those who will be worst affected during the period of the closure are Nigerians who have applied for tourist, study, business, immigrant visas or any other travel documents.

In a Facebook post, monitored by LEADERSHIP, the US embassy said that the development was sequel to the government shutdown in the US.

The statement read: “Due to the current US government shutdown, the American centres located in the embassy, Abuja and Consulate-General, Lagos are unfortunately closed. They will re-open once the US government shutdown is resolved. Sorry for any inconvenience to our valued patrons.”

This shutdown is the third in 2018, and began at midnight EST on Saturday, December 22 with a House-passed continuing resolution to fund the United States Government awaiting a full floor vote in the Senate. The point of contention was the inclusion of $5.7 billion in funding for a border wall.

President Trump, who has immigration as one of his flagship campaigns is bent on building a wall on US-Mexico border to control illegal immigration and crime, but the legislative arm, recently taken control by the Democrats and Republican-led Senate had unanimously voted to decline the president’s request.

Analysts say that the shutdown might linger on because Nancy Pelosi, who is expected to clinch the House Speakership, is bent on the House position on the issue.

Trump had in a bid to attract US voters during his campaign boasted that he would make the Mexican government pay for the wall.

However, with the refusal of the Mexican government to fund the project, the president approached the US Congress to provide $5.7billion for funding the wall, which the Congress rejected.

On December 11, Trump held a televised meeting with speaker-designee (Pelosi) and Senate minority leader, Chuck Schumer, where he asked them to approve the funding of the border wall.

Upon their refusal, Trump declared: “I am proud to shut down the government for border security.  I will be the one to shut the government down. I’m not going to blame you for it  I will take the mantle. I will be the one to shut it down. Three days later, Politico reported that Trump was willing to sign a bill that delayed a government shutdown into 2019 and the new Congress.

On December 19, the Senate unanimously passed a continuing resolution, the Further Additional Continuing Appropriations Act, 2019, lasting until February 8, 2019.

Pelosi announced that House Democrats would support such a measure even in the wake of opposition from conservative Republicans. After increasing criticisms from conservative media, pundits and political figures, Trump made a U-turn and declared that he would not sign any funding bill which did not include border wall project.

In US politics, a government shutdown occurs when Congress fails to pass, or the president refuses to sign, appropriations legislation funding federal government operations and agencies. In this case, the current interpretation of the Anti-deficiency Act requires the federal government to begin a “shutdown” of the affected activities involving the furlough of non-essential personnel and curtailment of agency activities and services. Essential employees are still required to work without pay until the government reopens, including medical professionals in the Veterans Hospitals and TSA agents.

Since 1976, when the current budget and appropriations process were enacted, there have been 22 gaps in budget funding, 10 of which led to federal employees being furloughed. Prior to 1990, funding gaps did not always lead to government shutdowns, but since 1990 the practice has been to shut down the government for all funding gaps. Shutdowns have also occurred at the state, territorial, and local levels of government.

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