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VIDEO: How working “Doubles” is contributing to high divorce rate among Kenyans in US

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BY BMJ MURIITHI

This week, The Diaspora Life show by Chris Wamalwa takes a look at factors that have led to the rise in divorce cases within the Kenyan diaspora community, especially in the United States.

Many Kenyan couples immigrating to the United States appear to be overwhelmed as they grapple with marital and family issues often occasioned by the new environment, leading to separation or even bitter divorces.

One issue that seems to stick out like a sore thumb and comes up in many conversations is the “urge to make as much money as possible which makes Kenyans ‘forget’ that hey have families.”

This, according to experts, cuts both ways, as both men and women are guilty as charged.

“Many work double or even triple shifts and are hardly at home even when needed the most,” says an observant Kenyan based in Baltimore, Maryland.

“It is not uncommon to find couples who are literally “separated” by their work schedules. Some, in states like Massachusetts, work in live-ins, sometimes “abandoning” their spouses for months on end…all in the name of money,” he told Kenya Satellite News Network.

“I think this also has something to do with shattered expectations when they were setting out to come to the US. Many think getting money here is easy…only to land and be confronted by the bitter truth that “dollars do not grow on trees and you have to work very hard to survive,” he added.

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According to Bishop Paul Kiilu of Gospel Lighthouse Ministry in Newark, Delaware, working many different shifts has greatly contributed to the rise of divorce cases among Kenyans in the US.

“You will find that many couples don’t spend time together as either the man or the woman is away looking the money, and the two only meet on the way in or out of the house. This is very common,” he says.

“Many African women often accept this as their destined way of life until they come to the United States where women have more rights and privileges and then they begin to be assertive thereby upsetting their existing family orders,” says Bishop Kiilu.

Ms Maggie Marikah Kwabena, an Atlanta based Kenyan says the situation is worrying.

“On a scale of 1 to 10, I would say the rate of divorce among the Kenyans in US is at 6,” she says.

” I blame the American system for the high divorce rate. Couples have to work so hard to earn a living. You barely have time for your spouse…and for those couples with children, the don’t have time for them either,” she told journalist Chris Wamalwa in Atlanta. Watch the show below courtesy of Standard Digital Videos:

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Others blame the rise in divorce rate on the change in cultural environment.

“Having been isolated from their Kenyan cultural environment, the immigrant couples lack the marital checks and balances that made their marriages work before they immigrated and apparently fail to maintain their traditional ways as the host culture impacts their lifestyles and worldviews,” says Ohio based Kenyan Scholar, Justus Musyoka.

“After living in the United States for a number of years, hence, many Kenyan immigrant couples eventually
succumb to the influence of American culture in positive and negative ways,” he says.

A thesis by Mr Musyoka paints a worrying picture.

For instance, he writes, “upon encountering unfamiliar marital customs, practices, and tenets,
the Kenyan immigrant couples begin to contend with disillusionment as their deep-rooted
convictions about the marital union become challenged and uprooted by the new cultural
norms.”

In addition, the immigrant couples undergo tremendous shifts in their living standards, working conditions, and exposure to a more permissive society, he says.

Unable to cope, some of the couples start to experience disappointment and disorientation as
traditional assumptions fade and familiar mutual expectations change, giving rise to new relational difficulties in these couples’ marriages.

Engulfed by such high degrees of cultural dissonance and virtual separation from their home culture, many of these Kenyan couples reportedly start to experience a whole new set of marital problems. Kenyan couples who have immigrated to the United States are effectively isolated from their familiar African cultural environment and exposed to new cultural beliefs and practices. This abrupt cultural paradigm shift results in initial cultural shock and, subsequently, cultural dissonance.

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Pressed on the one hand by the enticement of being acculturated and socialized into American society and on the other by their own Kenyan cultural biases, the Kenyan immigrant couples begin to be overwhelmed and to experience mutual relational problems that often end up in divorce, concludes Musyoka.

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Diaspora

US Government Announces Eligible countries for H-2A and H-2B Visa Programs in 2020 and Kenya is not among them

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U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), in consultation with the Department of State (DOS), have announced the list of countries whose nationals are eligible to participate in the H-2A and H-2B visa programs in 2020. The notice listing the eligible countries will be published in the Federal Register on Jan. 17, 2020.

For 2020, the acting secretary of Homeland Security has determined, with the concurrence of the Office of the Secretary of State, that the countries designated as eligible in 2019 will remain unchanged.

DHS maintains its authority to add countries to the eligible countries list at any time, and to remove any country whenever DHS and DOS determine that a country fails to meet the requirements for continued designation. Examples of factors that could result in the exclusion of a country or the removal of a country from the list include fraud, abuse, denial rates, overstay rates, human trafficking concerns, and other forms of noncompliance with the terms and conditions of the H-2 visa programs by nationals of that country.

The H-2A and H-2B visa programs allow U.S. employers to bring foreign nationals to the United States to fill temporary agricultural and nonagricultural jobs, respectively. Typically, USCIS approves H-2A and H-2B petitions only for nationals of countries that the secretary of Homeland Security has designated as eligible to participate in the programs.

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However, USCIS may approve H-2A and H-2B petitions, including those that were pending as of the date of the Federal Register notice, for nationals of countries not on the list on a case-by-case basis only if doing so is determined to be in the interest of the United States.

Effective Jan. 19, 2020, nationals of the following countries are eligible to receive H-2A and H-2B visas:

Andorra Finland Malta Serbia
Argentina France Moldova* Singapore
Australia Germany Mozambique Slovakia
Austria Greece Mexico Slovenia
Barbados Grenada Monaco Solomon Islands
Belgium Guatemala Mongolia South Africa
Brazil Honduras Montenegro South Korea
Brunei Hungary Nauru Spain
Bulgaria Iceland The Netherlands St. Vincent and the Grenadines
Canada Ireland Nicaragua Sweden
Chile Israel New Zealand Switzerland
Colombia Italy Norway Taiwan**
Costa Rica Jamaica Panama Thailand
Croatia Japan Paraguay* Timor-Leste
Czech Republic Kiribati Papua New Guinea Tonga
Denmark Latvia Peru Turkey
Dominican Republic* Liechtenstein Poland Tuvalu
Ecuador Lithuania Portugal Ukraine
El Salvador Luxembourg Romania United Kingdom
Estonia North Macedonia Samoa Uruguay
Fiji Madagascar San Marino Vanuatu

*Moldova, Paraguay, and the Dominican Republic are eligible to participate in the H-2A program, but they are not eligible to participate in the H-2B program.

**Regarding all references to “country” or “countries” in this document, it should be noted that the Taiwan Relations Act of 1979, Pub. L. No. 96-8, Section 4(b)(1), provides that “[w]henever the laws of the United States refer or relate to foreign countries, nations, states, governments, or similar entities, such terms shall include and such laws shall apply with respect to Taiwan.” 22 U.S.C. § 3303(b)(1).

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Accordingly, all references to “country” or “countries” in the regulations governing whether nationals of a country are eligible for H-2 program participation, 8 CFR 214.2(h)(5)(i)(F)(1)(i) and 8 CFR 214.2(h)(6)(i)(E)(1), are read to include Taiwan. This is consistent with the United States’ one-China policy, under which the United States has maintained unofficial relations with Taiwan since 1979.

This notice does not affect the status of H-2 beneficiaries who currently are in the United States unless they apply to extend their status. It does apply to nonimmigrants changing status in the United States to H-2A or B. Each country’s designation is valid, subject to removal for failure to meet the requirements for continued designation, from Jan. 19, 2020, until Jan. 18, 2021.

For more information on these programs, see the H-2A Temporary Agricultural Workers and H-2B Temporary Non-Agricultural Workers pages on our website.

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Kenyans in the diaspora sent home ksh280 billion in 2019 

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By JUDITH GICOBI

According to the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) new annual record in 2019, Kenyans living and working abroad sent home approximately $2.7 billion (KSh280 billion).

The amount shows a 3.7 percent growth compared to the previous year, whose remittances roughly $2.6 billion (KSh272.3 billion). The lowest remittance was in 2015.

A weekly report bulleting from CBK that was released on Friday shows money sent by Kenyans in the diaspora increase to $250.3 million (KSh25.2 billion) in December 2019. An increase from $218.8 million (KSh22 billion) in November. 

Kenyans in North America accounted for the most substantial part of the remittance in December at 50 percent. Following closely was Europe at 20 percent and 30 percent from the rest of the world.

However, the 2019 total remittances did not meet the World bank’s target of Sh285.5 billion. The target amount would have achieved a five percent growth. “The rate of growth of remittance inflows will rise by just 5 percent compared to a 39 percent growth between 2017 and 2018,’’ World Bank said in December.

World Bank sees the reduced growth in diaspora remittances is due to the increasing economic concerns in the US and the United Kingdom, where a recession may be setting in despite strong employment data.

”With the world slipping into a recession, it is feared that remittance inflows may suffer as companies’ layoff staff in the developed world even as employers and employees adopt austerity measures,” World Bank’s report said.

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Diaspora

Miguna Miguna urges Kenyans in diaspora to stage protest against Uhuru as he visits the UK

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By JUDITH GICOBI

Kenyan-Canadian lawyer, Miguna Miguna, is urging Kenyans in the United Kingdom to partake in a protest against President Kenyatta as he plans to visit the country this week.

Miguna, through his twitter page on Saturday, addressed his supporters, asking them to stage a protest where President Kenyatta will be staying during his visit to the UK. The protest is to demand that the president obeys court rules requiring the government to allow him to enter the country. 

“Red Alert! Notice to all Patriots in London! Uhuru Kenyatta will be in London, UK, from January 20, 2020,” wrote Miguna.

He added: “He will be shuttling between the Town House located at 66 Lowndes Square, Kensington, and 10 Downing Street. Find him. Show him that No One is Above the Law!” 

The president is set to attend the UK-Africa Investment Summit in London from Monday, January 20th, former Foreign Affairs CS Monica Juma confirmed.

“Arrived in London, ahead of H.E. President Uhuru Kenyatta who, at the invitation of Prime Minister Boris Johnson, will join other leaders for the Africa-UK investment summit on 20th January 2020,” Dr. Juma wrote on Twitter on Saturday.

Miguna is currently stuck in Germany after his return to Kenya on January 7 th was rendered impossible by the Kenyan Government that issued a red alert warning airlines not to fly Miguna to Kenya or any African nation. 

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