Trump to stop travel from countries that refuse to help Homeland Security
Administration fulfills Trump campaign promise
The Trump administration has triggered visa sanctions against four countries that have refused to take back citizens the U.S. is trying to deport — tapping a little-used but very effective tool for forcing compliance.
Officials at Homeland Security and the State Department confirmed the move Tuesday but declined to name the four countries.
Sources who tracked the deliberations in recent weeks, however, said the countries were Cambodia, Eritrea, Guinea and Sierra Leone.
Triggering the sanctions fulfills a campaign promise by President Trump , who had chided the Obama administration for not doing more to force countries to take back their deportees.
Once in office, Mr. Trump had ordered his government to use a provision in law that allows him to slap sanctions on countries that thwart deportation efforts. Homeland Security triggered the law by sending letters to the State Department this week, and now State must halt issuance of visas to some or all of those countries’ citizens.
“We can confirm the Department of State has received notification from the Department of Homeland Security regarding four countries that have refused to accept or unreasonably delayed the return of its nationals,” a department official told The Washington Times.
“When we receive such notification, the Department of State works to implement a visa suspension as expeditiously as possible in the manner the secretary determines most appropriate under the circumstances to achieve the desired goal.”
Officials at the embassies of the four targeted countries couldn’t be reached for comment Tuesday night.
All of them have been on the list of recalcitrant countries for years — with Eritrea having been a problem country as far back as 2004, according to an inspector general’s report.
Before now visa sanctions had only been triggered twice — once at the beginning of the Bush administration and once at the tail end of the Obama administration. The Trump government’s moves doubled that total in one swoop.
“Finally we have an administration that is doing what it should be doing,” said Rosemary Jenks, government relations manager at NumbersUSA, which had pushed both previous presidents to flex this tool. “This should be routine practice. As soon as a country refuses to take back its criminal nationals, there should be visa sanctions immediately.”
Countries’ refusal to take back their deportees has led to tragic results. In one high-profile case, Haiti refused repatriation of Jean Jacques, a man who’d served time for attempted murder. Unable to hold him beyond 180 days, thanks to a 2001 Supreme Court ruling, federal agents released Jacques — and within months he murdered a young woman in Connecticut in a drug dispute with her boyfriend.
Another illegal immigrant, Thong Vang, was released from prison in 2014 after serving time for rape convictions, but his home country of Laos refused to take him back. He ended up back in a California prison last year and shot two guards, police said.
During the presidential campaign, Mr. Trump had vowed a crackdown, complaining about “at least 23 countries that refuse to take their people back after they’ve been ordered to leave the United States, including large numbers of violent criminals.”