Visa sanc­tions is­sued on four coun­tries that nix de­por­tees

The Washington Times Weekly - - Politics - BY STEPHEN DINAN

The ad­min­is­tra­tion im­posed visa sanc­tions last week on four coun­tries that have re­fused to co­op­er­ate in tak­ing back their im­mi­grants whom the U.S. wants to de­port, mak­ing good on one of Pres­i­dent Trump’s cam­paign prom­ises.

The sanc­tions would be­gin last Wed­nes­day, halt­ing is­suance of at least some cat­e­gories of visas to would-be trav­el­ers from Cam­bo­dia, Guinea, Sierra Leone and Eritrea.

“The Sec­re­tary of State has or­dered con­sular of­fi­cers in Eritrea, Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Cam­bo­dia to im­ple­ment visa re­stric­tions ef­fec­tive Septem­ber 13, 2017,” the de­part­ment said in a state­ment pro­vided to The Washington Times. “The Sec­re­tary de­ter­mined the cat­e­gories of visa ap­pli­cants sub­ject to th­ese re­stric­tions on a coun­try-by-coun­try ba­sis.”

The law al­lows for all visas to be halted to any coun­try that re­fuses co­op­er­a­tion, but the de­part­ment de­cided to im­pose less dra­co­nian penal­ties in each of the four cases.

In Cam­bo­dia, only top diplo­mats and their fam­i­lies will be de­nied tem­po­rary tourism or busi­ness visas. In Eritrea, the U.S. Em­bassy will stop is­su­ing busi­ness and tourist visas to all cit­i­zens.

In Guinea, gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials and fam­ily mem­bers will be de­nied busi­ness, tourist and stu­dent and ex­change pro­gram visas. In Sierra Leone, the gov­ern­ment’s diplo­mats and im­mi­gra­tion of­fi­cials will be de­nied busi­ness and tourist visas.

Still, the sanc­tions mark a ma­jor in­crease in pres­sure on coun­tries that refuse to take back their de­por­tees. Mr. Trump com­plained about the sit­u­a­tion dur­ing his pres­i­den­tial cam­paign and di­rected quick ac­tion in one of his first ex­ec­u­tive or­ders in of­fice.

Home­land Se­cu­rity act­ing Sec­re­tary Elaine Duke trig­gered the sanc­tions last month by send­ing let­ters to the State De­part­ment say­ing that the four coun­tries were re­cal­ci­trant.

The State De­part­ment then had 30 days to de­cide what the ex­act penal­ties should be in each case.

Sanc­tions have been trig­gered only twice be­fore — once in 2001 against Guyana and again late last year against Gam­bia. In both in­stances, they pro­duced quick re­sults. Guyana moved within months to is­sue travel doc­u­ments to take back 112 of the 113 de­por­tees stuck in a back­log.

A man who an­swered the phones at Sierra Leone’s em­bassy in Washington said the of­fices were closed and urged a re­porter to call back. Ef­forts to reach the em­bassies of Guinea, Eritrea and Cam­bo­dia were un­suc­cess­ful.

The four em­bassies didn’t re­spond to re­quests for com­ment last month when The Times first re­ported they were be­ing tar­geted.

Rose­mary Jenks, gov­ern­ment re­la­tions man­ager at Num­ber­sUSA, which ad­vo­cates for stricter im­mi­gra­tion con­trols, said it was a start.

“The law says that we have the author­ity to halt visas from re­cal­ci­trant coun­tries, and we should halt visas. We should stop the is­suance of visas to coun­tries that don’t take back their crim­i­nals. Pe­riod. Full stop,” she said.

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