West African nation The Gambia has refused to accept nearly 2,000 people the U.S. is trying to deport, so the Obama administration has finally decided to pull the trigger and will deny visas to some Gambians hoping to visit the U.S., the State Department said Saturday.
Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson took the decisive move after years of prodding by lawmakers on Capitol Hill, signing a letter triggering the law that requires a halt in visas to countries that are refusing to accept their own citizens. Under the law the State Department had no choice but to comply.
The move comes at a time when Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton is facing criticism for allowing a major backlog of criminal aliens to build up during her tenure as secretary of state. Republican rival Donald Trump has said she made the U.S. less safe by refusing to force other countries to cooperate.
In this new case, State Department officials said they informed the Gambian government of the move on Saturday.
“As of October 1, 2016, the U.S. Embassy in Banjul, The Gambia has discontinued visa issuance to employees of the Gambian government, employees of certain entities associated with the government, and their spouses and children, with limited exceptions,” a State Department official said.
The law appears to call for an even broader response — the denial of visas to all Gambian citizens. But stripping government officials and their families of visas is still a powerful lever. The only time it’s been used before, against Guyana in 2001, it produced full cooperation in less than two months.
– The Washington Times