(NEW YORK TIMES) — The Trump administration will issue visa sanctions against countries that refuse to accept people the United States aims to deport, the latest restrictive border measure implemented amid the coronavirus pandemic.
President Donald Trump issued a memo on Friday night directing Chad Wolf, the acting secretary of homeland security, to notify Secretary of State Mike Pompeo of any nation that refused to coordinate with the United States on such deportations.
At that point, Mr. Pompeo will have seven days to impose visa sanctions, which would make it tougher, if not impossible, for those countries to get U.S. visas for their citizens.
“Countries that deny or unreasonably delay the acceptance of their citizens, subjects, nationals or residents from the United States during the ongoing pandemic caused by SARS-CoV-2 create unacceptable public health risks for Americans,” Mr. Trump wrote in the memo.
During the pandemic, the White House has been able to push through several restrictive immigration-related policies that had previously stalled. The threat of visa sanctions on uncooperative countries was the sort of retaliatory measure some in the Trump administration had long sought.
The administration has sealed the border to migrants, including those seeking asylum in the United States. Border officials are using biometric tools to check the background history of migrants before turning them around.
Citing an order from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, border agents have immediately turned back more than 6,300 migrants to Mexico or their home countries without providing them a chance to apply for asylum. The administration had a similar policy blocked by the Supreme Court in 2018.
Administration officials say the border measure and the new visa sanctions are efforts to prevent the spread of infectious disease throughout the United States. Many migrants who come to the border are sick or lack documents proving their prior medical history.