Black New Yorker Stuck In Ghana Plans To Sue U.S. Government Over Covid-19 Travel Restrictions
New Yorker Nova Felder has been stuck in Ghana and is now threatening to sue the U.S. government for negligence and violating his constitutional rights.
Felder told NY1 he has hired attorney Pierre Gooding.
“When you have 99 flights coming out of Honduras for half of the amount of people, you can’t say that we are treating everyone equally,” said Pierre Gooding, Felder’s attorney. “Everyone in this country is entitled to equal protection under the law. And that’s simply not happening.”
Felder is not alone. Another New Yorker named Pamela Ama has been stranded in Ghana for the last five months. It’s not because she was on an extended stay, but because she got stuck there like Felder in the West African country due to covid-19 travel restrictions.
On July 30, Ama was hoping to purchase a $1,400 and leave. She was one of hundreds of people waiting online to purchase a ticket on an Ethiopian Airlines flight after missing an earlier opportunity to return home.
“I missed the June 29 flight and I’m just trying to get out,” Ama told NY1. “My mom passed during the time that I’m here. My son’s baby mother was hit by a car and killed. I’ve got to get out. I have family back home that really needs me.”
Ama is among a group of U.S. citizens and green-card holders who were stranded in Ghana when the country’s president indefinitely closed the borders in March due to the pandemic.
The U.S. State Department stopped bringing people back to the U.S. in May after arranging seven repatriation flights.
On March 19, the U.S. State Department department issued the Level 4: Do Not Travel advisory — the highest level of travel advisory, urging U.S. citizens not to travel overseas due to the coronavirus pandemic.
On Aug. 6, it lifted its blanket international travel advisory.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control continues to recommend against non-essential travel to more than 200 destinations due to the high covid-19 risk.
The U.S. has four travel advisory levels, ranked from 1 to 4. The least risky countries are ranked at Level 1, and the department suggests that travelers “exercise normal precautions” while visiting those countries. Level 1 countries currently include Taiwan, where there are few coronavirus cases. In Level 2 countries, such as Mauritius or Thailand, travelers are urged to “exercise increased caution.” In countries with Level 3 advisories, such as Jamaica, Indonesia, or Kenya, travelers are encouraged to “reconsider travel,” The Washington Post reported.
Italy, Britain, and France have Level 3 warnings.
There has been behind-the-scenes work to try and get stranded African Americans back from Ghana.
New York-based Bridging Black America has been writing to local leaders and federal agencies to raise awareness of the plight of Ghanaian-Americans due to the travel restrictions.
New York Sen. Chuck Schumer’s office has been getting a lot of calls from Americans stuck in Ghana. Schumer says the federal authorities need to do more to ensure that all citizens abroad get the same protections.
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“The State Department and this administration has been anti-immigration from the get go and do it in all kinds of weird and many, often times, despicable ways,” Schumer said. “So, why they’ve singled out Ghana, I don’t know. But we are going to fight it.”
“If the U.S. government wanted to, they would send 20 flights over and bring our Americans home. It makes no sense to do anything else,” Felder’s attorney, Gooding, said.