Published: Thu, September 14, 2017
World | By Paul Elliott

United States issues visa restrictions for Guinea, Eritrea, over deportations

United States issues visa restrictions for Guinea, Eritrea, over deportations

A released obtained said the new State Department's restrictions are geared at four Asian and African nations that have rejected to take back citizens of their countries who've been deported.

The new rules, which come into effect immediately, have some exceptions, including those applying outside of their countries, on humanitarian grounds or people "deemed in the interest of the U.S.".

It said the suspension was implemented under USA immigration law in response to Cambodia's refusal to accept back its nationals whom the USA wants to repatriate.

Cambodia sanction differs, only Foreign Ministry employees at or above the rank of director general, and their families, who apply inside the country will be barred from getting some visas for personal travel, the third cable said.

It is not clear why only Cambodia, Eritrea and Guinea were selected for the sanctions or why Sierra Leone, which was last identified as "at risk" for recalcitrance, was included.

In practice, the United States has rarely taken that step - just twice in the past decade and a half, according to a Department of Homeland Security spokesman.

The State Department has declined to comment publicly on the visa sanctions, and it remains unclear why Sierra Leone was sanctioned despite not being one of the 12 recalcitrant countries.

The most recent instance was in October 2016, when the Obama administration stopped issuing visas to Gambian government officials and their families, because the government was not taking back USA deportees from the Gambia. The Department of State received notification under Section 243 (d) of the Immigration and Nationality Act from the Department of Homeland Security for Eritrea, Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Cambodia.

The US Embassy in Cambodia today stopped issuing visas to senior Cambodian foreign ministry officials and their families, an action initiated by the US Department of Homeland Security. For this reason, "ICE has been forced to release into the United States approximately 2,137 Guinean and 831 Sierra Leone nationals, many with criminal convictions". The United States itself routinely cooperates with foreign governments in documenting and accepting its citizens when asked, as do the majority of countries in the world. None of those countries are facing visa sanctions.

Other countries listed as being recalcitrant in accepting deportees from the USA include China, Cuba, Vietnam, Laos, Iran, Burma, Morocco and South Sudan.

The incoming Trump administration, however, began placing diplomatic pressure on countries that resist accepting deportees.

According to congressional testimony by former assistant secretary of state for consular affairs Michele Bond in 2016, Cuba was the "most recalcitrant country on repatriation of its nationals", although she did not give numbers.

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