The United States has slapped visa sanctions on four African, Asian nations, arguing they have refused to take back deported citizens.
The Homeland Security Department said Wednesday the countries are being punished “due to lack of cooperation” on deportations.
The US Embassy in Eritrea said in a statement that the most severe sanctions will be imposed against the country, which is suspending the issuance of B visas for business and tourism of its nations.
The East African nation is a major source of migrants who are reportedly fleeing a system of forced military conscription that repeatedly has been denounced by the United Nations and human rights groups.
In the Southeast Asian nation of Cambodia, top government officials of and their immediate family members will be denied business and tourism visas by the US.
The issuance of student and cultural exchange visas to certain officials and family members of Guinea’s government will be suspended, along with B visas for business and tourism.
In Sierra Leone, officials in the country’s foreign ministry and immigration offices will be denied business and tourist visas. The West African nation is currently recovering from recent mudslides in the capital that killed hundreds of people.
The State Department traditionally has avoided imposing visa sanctions because affected nations often hit back through reciprocal restrictions on US citizens and officials.
President Donald Trump has directed the Secretary of State to negotiate with “recalcitrant countries” that wouldn’t accept deported nationals from America. If the countries failed to comply, the president’s executive order said, DHS and State must impose sanctions.
“The United States itself routinely cooperates with foreign governments in documenting and accepting its citizens when asked, as do the majority of countries in the world,” said acting DHS Secretary Elaine Duke in a related announcement. “However, these countries have failed to do so, and that one-way street ends with these sanctions.”
It is not clear why only Cambodia, Eritrea, Guinea and Sierra Leone were selected for the sanctions. China, Cuba, Vietnam, Laos, Iran, Myanmar, Morocco and South Sudan are listed as being recalcitrant in accepting deportees from the US.