‘Deadbeat Nations’ Exploit Immigration Loopholes, Endanger Americans

Press Releases

February 5, 2019

IRLI sues State Department for records related to recalcitrant countries

WASHINGTON—The Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI), on behalf of the Federation for American Immigration Reform, has filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of State (DOS) that seeks agency records regarding the names of recalcitrant countries that refused to comply with their international obligations to accept the return of their citizens who were found to be ineligible to remain in the United States. The complaint also inquires whether DOS has taken any action to discontinue granting immigrant and nonimmigrant visas to these countries for noncompliance.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is responsible for the timely removal of illegal aliens from the United States once they are subject to a final order of removal. ICE, along with DOS, takes appropriate steps to confirm the country of citizenship of the aliens in question. Countries that refuse to accept or delay the acceptance of their nationals are considered uncooperative or recalcitrant.

Due to delays in travel document issuance or refusals by foreign governments to issue travel documents for the repatriation of their nationals, ICE has been legally required to release thousands of aliens, including those with serious criminal convictions, based on a Supreme Court decision, Zadvydas v. Davis, 533 U.S. 678 (2001). As a result, detained aliens subject to removal orders for whom there is “no significant likelihood of removal in the reasonably foreseeable future,” must be released into the United States after six months, with limited exceptions.

When President Trump came into office, he issued an Executive Order (EO) directing the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and DOS to “effectively implement” the sanctions provided for in Section 243(d) of the Immigration and Naturalization Act, including the “discontinuance” of visa issuance as a penalty for countries that refuse to take back their “citizens, subjects, nationals, and residents” who have been ordered deported from the United States. The EO also required the Secretary of State to “ensure that diplomatic efforts and negotiations with foreign states include as a condition precedent the acceptance by those foreign states of their nationals who are subject to removal from the United States.”

In September 2017, DHS reported that, because of failures of travel document issuance, ICE was forced to release 2,137 Guineans and 831 Sierra Leoneans subject to deportation orders, many with serious criminal convictions, back into the United States. For the same reason, ICE was also compelled to release some 700 Eritrean nationals, including some with convictions for violent crimes and drug offenses, and 1,900 Cambodian nationals, 1,412 of whom had criminal convictions, including for weapons offenses, sex offenses, and drug offenses.

Last summer, DHS announced sanctions against two countries, Burma and Laos, citing their failure to establish reliable processes for issuing travel documents for their citizens ordered deported for serious crimes, who as a result of that failure were released back into the United States. Very recently, DHS slapped visa sanctions on Ghana for refusing to accept its own citizens who had been ordered deported from this country.

“It’s bad enough that the United States has to contend with a radical, lavishly-funded anti-borders movement that seeks to undermine our national sovereignty,” said Dale L. Wilcox, executive director and general counsel of IRLI. “It’s even worse that we have to deal with these deadbeat nations that won’t take their citizens back. These countries are in violation of international law and are exposing American citizens to foreign nationals with criminal histories. The Trump administration is right to use any and all options it has to penalize these nations.”

The case is Federation for American Immigration Reform v. U.S. Department of State, No. 19-182 (D.D.C.)

For additional information, contact: Brian Lonergan • 202-232-5590 • blonergan@irli.org

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