US to limit visas in 4 nations for refusing to take back refugees; Cambodia retaliates

In a new policy which went into effect Wednesday, the State Department stopped issuing specific visas for some prospective visitors to the U.S. from Cambodia, Eritrea, Guinea and Sierra Leone.

Under the new policy, visa restrictions were imposed on the four countries in response to each refusing the attempted return of refugees deported from the U.S.

A series of diplomatic cables sent by Secretary Rex Tillerson made available to the public characterized the governments of Cambodia, Eritrea, Guinea and Sierra Leone as “denying or unreasonably delaying” the return of its citizens.

The cables stated visa privileges for citizens from uncooperative countries would be curbed until each country reversed its re-acceptance policy.

“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 told reporters Tuesday.

The restrictions vary by nation and applicant with Eritrea facing the strictest restrictions. Under the new policy, most business or tourism visa applications will be rejected.

Similarly, citizens from Guinea will face severe restrictions for applicants seeking business, travel or student visas.

However, citizens from Cambodia and Sierra Leone are unaffected by the new policy.  In respect to each country, the new restrictions affect applicants from each country’s foreign ministry.

For Cambodians, only high-ranking officials from the foreign ministry and their family members seeking personal travel visas are denied. In Sierra Leone, the U.S. will no longer issue visas to foreign ministry officials seeking business or tourist visas.

The restrictions follow a policy in which former President Obama’s State Department denied visas to Gambian diplomats and their families for the country’s refusal to repatriate deportees from the U.S.

Responding in vitriolic fashion Thursday and Friday, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen announced the suspension of U.S. search missions looking for 48 missing Vietnam War soldiers and the ejection of American Peace Corps personnel.

 

[Reuters] [AP] [Image courtesy Escape]