The U.S. government has introduced visa sanctions on four nations; Cambodia, Eritrea, Guinea, and Sierra Leone, for failing to take back their own citizens under U.S. deportation orders.
This is welcome news. For far too long, the U.S. has failed to take robust action to rid ourselves of those whom the courts have ordered out.
But it's also a common sense strike in favor of public safety. As the Department of Homeland Security notes, there have been many cases of citizens from these countries being convicted of serious criminal offenses on U.S. soil. And the only thing that prevented their being deported was the misbehavior of their home countries' governments. Unfortunately, U.S. law holds that absent "significant likelihood of removal in the reasonably foreseeable future," those under deportation orders must be released. As a result, more than 1,9000 Cambodians, approximately 700 Eritreans, 2,137 Guineans, and 831 nationals of Sierra Leone -- all convicted criminals -- are now residing in the U.S. while subject to final deportation orders.
Still, reflecting a rightful U.S. desire to protect long term foreign relationships, the sanctions apply only to certain classes of individuals.
Until the crisis is resolved, Guinean government officials and their families will be refused temporary business, pleasure, and student visas for U.S. visits. In the case of Cambodia and Sierra Leone, temporary business and pleasure visas will no longer be granted to certain government officials. And all Eritrean nationals will no longer be eligible for temporary business or pleasure visas.
The idea is to send the message, "If you don't take back your bad eggs, you won't have access to America." The Trump administration hopes to shake up the establishment classes in each of the four nations. That's sensible in that because of the relative wealth of these nations, the sanctions will fall disproportionately on higher ranking and higher-wealth individuals. In this sense, the sanctions action may lead those influential individuals to jolt their respective government bureaucracies into action.
Put simply, this is a clever way to put America first without alienating allies over the longer term.