The Trump Administration will impose visa sanctions on four countries right now, and up to 23 in all, that refuse to take back foreign nationals deemed to be in the US illegally, Department of Homeland Security spokesman Dave Lapan said.
CNN Muslim majority countries included are Sierra Leone, Guinea, and Eritrea (50% Muslim), as well as one Buddhist country, Cambodia. The four countries, according to a DHS source close to the deliberations — come from a running list of countries the US designates as “recalcitrant” for not accepting, or delaying, repatriation of their own citizens after the US has tried to deport them.
But that’s not all: “There are at least 23 (mostly Muslim) countries that refuse to take their people back after they’ve been ordered to leave the United States, including large numbers of violent criminals. They won’t take them back. So we say, ‘OK, we’ll keep them.’ Not going to happen with me, not going to happen with me,” Trump said in an August 2016 speech.
Citizens of the four countries identified by the administration will face visa restrictions that could prevent them from entering the US.
The sanctions process was triggered last week in a letter sent to the State Department by Acting DHS Secretary Elaine Duke, Lapan said. It is up to the State Department to determine the visa restrictions’ scope, and to initiate them.
In a statement, a State Department official confirmed receipt of the DHS letter. “When we receive such notification, the law requires a suspension of visa issuance. We follow a standard process 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,” the official said.
“That process includes internal discussions with, and official notification to, affected countries. We are not going to get ahead of that process. When we have completed the process, information will be available about the terms of the visa suspension,” the official continued.
While the US has regularly kept a list of countries considered recalcitrant, only two countries have previously received sanctions under the law: Guyana, in 2001, and The Gambia, in 2016. In both cases, US visas were restricted for certain government and diplomatic employees.
The sanctions were first reported by the Washington Times. In a news briefing Wednesday, Lapan declined to name the four countries. The State Department also refused to identify the countries. After a Supreme Court ruling in 2001, immigration authorities have been forced to release after a period of time undocumented immigrants from countries that refuse to accept their repatriation.
Between 2013 and 2016, more than 8,000 undocumented immigrants were released, some after serving time in prison for violent crimes, according to data from the House committee on oversight and government reform.
And this is why Trump did what he did and did it so fast:
According to ICE 953,506 aliens with final orders of removal remain in the United States.
The Supreme Court’s decision in Zadvydas v. Davis, which limits the length of detention for aliens who cannot be removed in the near future, allows even violent criminal aliens to be put back on U.S. streets if their home country refuses to repatriate.
Since 2013, 8,275 criminal aliens were released under Zadvydas.
This is a fraction of the 86,288 criminal aliens since 2013 released back into U.S communities and who went on to commit 231,074 crimes.
State and DHS are not enforcing current law (243(d) of the Immigration and Nationality Act), which allows the U.S. to deny visas to countries who refuse to take back their nationals.
By focusing on a sliding scale of penalties rather than enforcing the statute, the State Department is prioritizing foreign policy ideology over the safety of American citizens and usurping the will of Congress.
Health Care, Benefits, and Administrative Rules Subcommittee Chairman Jim Jordan (R-OH): “Just a few minutes ago you said, …‘We at the State Department believe denying visas can be an effective tool.’ How can it be effective if you never use it?”