The US government has triggered a law that enables it to deny visas to officials of the government of The Gambia and their associates.
The Gambia is one of 23 countries cited by US immigration official documents for refusing to take back their citizens who have been deported from the US. Described as recalcitrant, the US eventually acted, by restricting visas to some Gambian government officials seeking to travel to the US as punishment.
The Gambia refused to accept about 2000 of its citizens that the US has been trying to deport, and so, on Saturday October 1, 2016, the US government took the decision to finally trigger the law that requires a halt in visas to countries that are refusing to accept their own citizens, according to a report by The Washington Times.
“As of October 1, 2016, the US Embassy in Banjul, The Gambia has discontinued visa issuance to employees of the Gambian government, employees of certain entities associated with the government, and their spouses and children, with limited exceptions,” a State Department official was quoted to have said.
The publication notes that, while the law appears to call for an even broader response — the denial of visas to all Gambian citizens, stripping government officials and their families of visas is still a powerful lever.
This is the second time the US government has been compelled to use Section 243(d) of the immigration code.
“The only time it’s been used before, against Guyana in 2001, it produced full cooperation in less than two months,” it added.
Ghana could face the same action. There are currently, 3,500 Ghanaians under deportation orders in the US, for abusing the terms of their visas.
The US Ambassador to Ghana, Robert P. Jackson had told ghanabusinessnews.com in July that the 3,500 are under deportation orders, for overstaying their visas.
Jackson also warned that, for not cooperating with the US government in regards to people who have been convicted of crimes in the US and have returned to Ghana, the US government would be compelled to consider a proposal by Senator Grassley to restrict visas to all Ghanaians.
In June, this year, Republican Senator for Iowa, Chuck Grassley made an appeal to the Obama Administration to stop issuing immigrant and non-immigrant visas to citizens of Ghana and 22 other countries.
According to Grassley, 2,166 illegal immigrants were released in the US in 2015, and as many as 6,100 such individuals were set free in 2014 and 2013. The senator pointed out that Cuba, China, Somalia, India and Ghana are the five most “recalcitrant countries” of the 23 labelled as uncooperative by the government. The US Immigrations and Customs Enforcement is monitoring 62 other such countries, PTI reported, another report noted.
The countries on the list that ghanabusinessnews.com, has been able to put together through research, include Iraq, Algeria, Bangladesh, Cape Verde, Ivory Coast, Eritrea, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Sierra Leone, Senegal, Cuba and St. Lucia. The others are China, Zimbabwe, India, Somalia, Cuba, and Iran.
While, Jackson conceded that visa restriction is a very drastic step that he would be very reluctant to take, and that he would only take if there are no remaining options, he added that the subject is under discussion by his government.
By Emmanuel K. Dogbevi
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