Intertwined migration policies : citizenship, race, and quality of life as they affect Nigerian immigrants in the United States




Ndubuizu, Christopher

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In an era of heightened immigration restrictions in the United States, this study applies the conceptual framework of context of reception (Portes and Rumbaut, 2014) to examine how federal immigration policies affect the integration of Nigerian immigrants in the United States. Drawing upon the case analysis of the Houston Metropolitan Area, this study deploys two qualitative research methods; namely, ethnographic interviews and participant observation, to address the following questions: (i) How do Nigerian immigrants define American citizenship? (ii) How do federal immigration policies influence Nigerian immigrants’ understanding of race (blackness) and how it functions in the United States? (iii) Is there a relationship between the culmination of racialized experiences and the quality of life among Nigerians in the US? In answering these questions, I argue that the assigned racial status of Nigerians as Black renders their citizenship status and belonging in the United States as a precarious, fragile condition, despite their educational and occupational attainments. Chapter 1 details the push and pull factors that facilitated African immigration to the US post-1965 while also providing a sociodemographic profile of Nigerians in the US. Chapter 2 reveals how Nigerians characterize and exercise their ideas of American citizenship and argues that the concept of US citizenship continues to be predicated on racial and ethnic exclusion. Chapter 3 examines the racialization of Nigerians in the US and how they navigate US racial politics. Chapter 4 explores how the culmination of perceived racialized experiences affect the quality of life of Nigerians. Chapter 5 discusses the political incorporation of Nigerians in Houston and assesses their level of political mobilization to combat racial inequality. This study will compel us to seek new understandings of the nuanced relationship between immigration, racialization, citizenship, and quality of life. Ultimately, the project articulates the persistence of marginality of African immigrants and seeks to identify policies that will redress it.


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