In April, around 43 Cambodians were deported to Phnom Penh, making it the largest group to be sent back under a 2002 bilateral agreement.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security imposed visa sanctions on Myanmar and Laos Tuesday, saying that since both Southeast Asian countries have refused to issue travel documents or accept nationals which the U.S. seeks to deport, they will no longer issue certain types of visas to higher level officials until they rectify the situation and stop the delay.
The two Southeast Asian nations are the most recent in delaying or declining to accept nationals slated for expulsion from the U.S. in retaliation to U.S.’ restrictive measures.
“As a general matter, recalcitrant countries who refuse to issue travel documents render meaningless the United States’ entire removal process,” U.S. Homeland Security said in a statement, adding that until both Myanmar and Laos both agree to accept the citizens, the U.S. State Department won’t issue certain types of visas to higher level officials.
In Myanmar, the U.S.-levied restrictions affect some employees, and their family members, at the Ministry of Labor, Immigration and Population and Ministry of Home Affairs. In Laos, the restrictions apply to the Ministry of Public Security and other government officials.
In 2017, the Trump administration sanctioned four countries, Cambodia, Eritrea, Guinea, and Sierra Leone for refusing to comply with the deportation policy.
The U.S. has kept a “recalcitrant” list for a long time, but only two countries have been subjected to sanctions over the issue in the past, in 2001, Guyana, and Gambia, in 2016, the CNN reported.
With the Trump administration’s drive to deport immigrants, many in record numbers are being sent back to the Southeast Asian nations. In April, around 43 Cambodians were deported to Phnom Penh, making it the largest group to be sent back under a 2002 bilateral agreement.
Over 16,000 Southeast Asian community members, many of whom came to the U.S. as refugees, have also received final orders for removal, according to the Southeast Asia Resource Action Center (SEARAC), a Washington-based non profit.