Deportation Dispute: U.S. Refusing Visas for Countries Unwilling to Take Back Deported Citizens

By Christopher Coble, Esq. on September 19, 2017 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Most of us don't think about what happens to people deported from the United States, or where they go. But that process can be pretty complicated and require the cooperation of other nations accepting deportees. And the Trump administration is accusing four nations of being less than cooperative in deportation efforts, and using that lack of cooperation to withhold visas from citizens of those countries looking to enter the U.S.

Reuters is reporting that the State Department will stop issuing certain kinds of visas to citizens of Cambodia, Eritrea, Guinea, and Sierra Leone in retaliation for those nations not taking back their citizens deported from the United States. It's just the latest flashpoint in President Trump's immigration crackdown.

Border Back and Forth

"International law obligates each country to accept the return of its nationals ordered removed from the United States," Elaine Duke, the acting secretary of Homeland Security announced regarding the visa crackdown. "Cambodia, Eritrea, Guinea, and Sierra Leone have failed in that responsibility." According to Homeland Security, there are about 700 Eritrean nationals in the United States are subject to final orders of removal, along with over 1,900 Cambodian, 2,137 Guinean, and 831 Sierra Leone nationals.

Officials claim many of those subject to removal have serious criminal convictions, but had to be released under a 2001 Supreme Court case that ruled the government could not indefinitely detain deportable aliens simply because a country was unwilling to take them.

Understandably, the affected countries were not too pleased with the State Department's decision. Cambodia, for one, had its own retaliation, suspending cooperation with U.S. teams searching for the remains of Americans in the country missing in action from the Vietnam War.

Deportation Power

The new visa policy came from Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, according to Reuters. "The Secretary determines the categories of applicants subject to the visa restrictions, and the categories differ slightly country by country," State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert added during a news briefing.

While Congress has the sole authority to pass immigration legislation, the executive branch of the government, and the president especially, is in charge immigration, border, and national security enforcement agencies, and can direct enforcement policies among those agencies. If you have questions or concerns regarding your immigration or visa status, talk to an experienced immigration attorney.

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