(CMR) President of the United States Donald Trump issued a memo on Friday (April 10) threatening to impose visa sanctions against countries that do not accept their citizens if they are repatriated.
The latest memorandum means Jamaica could see the arrivals of scores of repatriated citizens on its shores in a matter of just a few short weeks, despite the coronavirus pandemic.
Despite the closure of Jamaican airspace to incoming passengers, Minister with responsibility for National Security, Horace Chang, said that a group of deportees is expected on the island later this month.
Chang revealed that initially the group was to arrive earlier but had been delayed due to talks with US authorities.
Prime Minister Andrew Holness further clarified the details surrounding repatriations during an address to the nation about the coronavirus earlier this evening (April 14).
“We have these agreements to take back our citizens who have been deported from overseas. We have a very good relationship with the United States and we were able to have discussions with our partners, with our counterparts and the initial proposed dates were rescheduled to dates that were more favourable to our state and stage of readiness and preparation,” Holness said.
In the memorandum to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Trump cited the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and the need to ensure “the repatriation of foreign nationals who violate the laws of the United States.”
“If any government of a foreign country denies or unreasonably delays the acceptance of aliens who are citizens, subjects, nationals, or residents of that country after being asked to accept those aliens, and if such denial or delay is impeding operations of the Department of Homeland Security necessary to respond to the ongoing pandemic caused by SARS-CoV-2,”
“Upon receipt of a notification described in subsection (a) of this section, the Secretary of State shall as expeditiously as possible, but no later than 7 days after receipt, adopt and initiate a plan to impose the visa sanctions provided for in section 243(d) of the INA. Nothing in this subsection shall be construed to alter or limit the authority of the Secretary of State to make exceptions consistent with the foreign policy interests of the United States,” the memo further stated.
According to local immigration lawyers, while the way in which the memo is written is unclear, what is clear is that Jamaica needs to start to make provision for the inevitable.
The memo did not name any countries specifically.
On March 21, the Trump administration implemented new border rules, citing the coronavirus pandemic.
Under these new rules, U.S. officials can quickly remove people without standard immigration proceedings.