The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has placed Cambodia, Eritrea, Guinea and Sierra Leone under sanctions—which means that visa applications from those countries’ nationals will be denied—because they refuse to take back their illegal invader nationals deported from America.
According to a report in the Washington Times, a “variety of factors” went into the decision to impose sanctions on four countries that refuse to cooperate with the U.S. government when it comes to taking back their illegal and criminal immigrants.
DHS spokesman David Lapan said the hope is that all countries begin to meet their obligations to repatriate their own citizen when the U.S. tries to deport them.
Relevant legislation states that offending nationals from offending states can be denied the ability to obtain immigrant or visitor visas to travel to the U.S.
“Our goal is to get countries to agree to accept the return of their nationals,” Lapan said.
Acting Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke last week signed letters triggering Section 243(d) of the immigration code, a rarely used but powerful tool intended to try to prevent sanctuary countries—nations that leave illegal immigrants on the streets of the U.S. by refusing to take them back.
Under 243(d), now that the letters have been sent, the State Department must impose some sanctions. The department can decide whether to use immigrant or non-immigrant visas, and whether to deny them to all citizens of those countries or a subset, such as government officials.
State Department officials will release the names of the countries when they make final decisions on punishments.
Twelve countries are currently on U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s list of “recalcitrant” nations that seriously hinder deportations: China, Cuba, Vietnam, Laos, Iran, Guinea, Cambodia, Eritrea, Myanmar, Morocco, Hong Kong and South Sudan.
They are, in essence, sanctuary countries. Many of the immigrants they refuse to take back have criminal records—including murder—but ICE is required under a 2001 Supreme Court ruling to release the immigrants back onto the streets at some point.
Lapan said that means “tens of thousands” of people have been released and that his department’s decision to sanction four countries was based on how long the countries had been on the list, whether they’ve been showing progress in cooperating, and other diplomatic considerations.
The law has been triggered twice in the past: against Guyana in 2001 and the Gambia last year. In each case, the State Department only stopped issuing visas to government officials and their families.
In the case of Guyana, that government almost immediately agreed to take back 112 of 113 backlogged deportees. Officials for the Gambia also said they took steps last year after being hit with sanctions.