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Little Laos Rejects DHS visa sanction against Laos in exchange for accepting deportees

Little Laos Editorial Board and its mother org, The SEAD Project, condemns the latest level of aggression from the Trump administration against Laos and refugees and immigrants from Laos. On Tuesday, July 10th, DHS (Department of Homeland Security) officially issued its first set of visa sanctions on Laos, stating its reason that the Lao government refuses to take back its nationals with deportation orders, also known as final orders of removal.

This is the beginning of its sanctions, which targets Lao government officials and their immediate families. The US Embassy in Vientiane has stopped issuing B1, B2, and B1/B2 nonimmigrant visas. While this impacts Lao governmental officials who may be traveling to the US, the announcement incites unnecessary fear and completely fails to inform communities that this policy implication will impact Lao, Hmong and other ethnic groups from Laos who came as refugees with permanent status and had criminal convictions that they’ve already served time for and that this can also include those who are undocumented or simply have expired green cards that they were unaware of– which are all grounds for deportation.

According to SEARAC, since 1998, 4,568 individuals from Laos have been issued deportation orders. Of that number, there have been a total of 206 deportations, with 4,362 still waiting in the US. “We can’t forget that these are our families, friends and neighbors who came as refugees and immigrants to escape the dire conditions in Southeast Asia of America’s war at the time, and have been living here for decades contributing to the social, cultural and economic fabric of America. This is their home now. And they are humans, too. We should do everything in our power to work with our community members in amplifying their stories and keeping families together. This will only exacerbate and strain US-Laos relations,” says Chanida Phaengdara Potter, founding editor of Little Laos on the Prairie and executive director of The SEAD Project.

Read the full DHS announcement here or below. Check the FAQs on what this announcement means.

DHS Announces Implementation of Visa Sanctions

Release Date:
July 10, 2018

On July 10, The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced, in coordination with the State Department, the implementation of visa sanctions on Burma and Laos due to lack of cooperation in accepting their citizens who have been ordered removed the United States.

Pursuant to her authority under Section 243(d) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen M. Nielsen notified Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that the governments of Burma and Laos have denied or unreasonably delayed accepting their nationals ordered removed from the United States.

As a result, Secretary Pompeo has ordered consular officers in Burma and Laos to implement visa restrictions on certain categories of visa applicants. Without an appropriate response from Burma and Laos, the scope of these sanctions may be expanded to a wider population. The suspension will remain in place until the Secretary Nielsen notifies Secretary Pompeo that cooperation on removals has improved to an acceptable level.

The decision to sanction a recalcitrant country is not taken lightly. DHS makes significant efforts, in collaboration with the State Department, to encourage countries to accept the prompt, lawful return of their nationals who are subject to removal from the United States. Those efforts include diplomatic communications at the highest level of government.

As a general matter, recalcitrant countries who refuse to issue travel documents render meaningless the United States’ entire removal process as enacted by Congress in the INA, and such countries also fail to meet their international treaty obligations to take back their nationals who have been ordered removed.

Further, based on the Supreme Court’s decision in Zadvydas v. Davis, with narrow exceptions, aliens with final orders of removal, including aliens determined to pose a threat to the community or considered a flight risk, may not be detained beyond a presumptively reasonable period of six months if there is no “significant likelihood of removal in the reasonably foreseeable future.” When recalcitrant countries like Burma and Laos delay or refuse to issue travel documents to their nationals or refuse to accept their nationals within this time period, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) may be required to release dangerous criminals into communities across the United States.

Ultimately, without a travel document issued by an alien’s home country to confirm identity and nationality, ICE cannot complete the removal process of most aliens, with very limited exceptions.

Burma and Laos have not established repeatable processes for issuing travel documents to their nationals ordered removed from the United States. For this reason, ICE has been required to release Burmese and Lao nationals into the United States, some with serious criminal convictions.

Specific sanctions effective dates are listed below:

BURMA: As of July 9, 2018, the U.S. Embassy in Rangoon, Burma has discontinued the issuance of all B1 and B2 nonimmigrant visas for current officials at the Director General level and above from the Burmese Ministries of Labor, Immigration, and Population (MOLIP) and Home Affairs (MOHA), and their immediate family members, with limited exceptions.

LAOS: As of July 9, 2018, the U.S. Embassy in Vientiane, Laos, has discontinued the issuance of all B1, B2, and B1/B2 nonimmigrant visas for current officials at the Director General level and above from the Lao Ministry of Public Security (MPS) as well as their immediate families; and all A3 and G5 nonimmigrant visas to individuals employed by Lao government officials, with limited exceptions.

The Department of State may change the covered visa applicants or visa categories at any time.  Visa suspensions may include any categories of visa or visa applicants, as determined by the Department.

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Keep posted on upcoming interviews about the immigration landscape and how it will impact Lao Americans.

-editor@littlelaos.org

3 Comments

  1. Khan the Great says

    As if American people care you reject that or not. MAGA!

  2. so reacting to a communist government that refuses to work with existing laws. trying to fairly enforce existing laws on people that violate their conditions, giving over 4k people, like 99% of violators, that violated laws 20 years of still living in the united states is bad?

    you say you want equality, but you don’t. you want special treatment. and you are beyond insane. only 200 people have been deported FOR VIOLATING LAWS, which violates the requirements of immigration. they allowed the other 4,300 to stay for 20 years. and you complain of unfairness. america is more than reasonable. should america be more fair and deport all of them like they do every other violator of immigration law? should they be like other countries and not allow any due process or appeals? should they be like malaysia and cane illegals before they deport them?

    “While this impacts Lao governmental officials who may be traveling to the US, the announcement incites unnecessary fear and completely fails to inform communities that this policy implication will impact Lao, Hmong and other ethnic groups from Laos who came as refugees with permanent status and had criminal convictions that they’ve already served time for and that this can also include those who are undocumented or simply have expired green cards that they were unaware of– which are all grounds for deportation.” you’re the ones inciting fear. read any of your political articles. all fear mongering and lies.

    you say, “This will only exacerbate and strain US-Laos relations”. you know what really does? pushing actual political lies through your charity status blog. you have a bunch of articles that outright lie and divide lao americans calling america a racist, unfair, murderous country, with no actual credible evidence. first of all, that is complete bullshit, second if it was true, why still here and why try to get more people to come. laos is a beautiful country that will drag you away in the middle of the night and torture you to death with no recourse. you are free to go there. but once there not free anymore. enjoy your trip.

    • The Laounge says

      Just because you have a valid green card doesn’t exempt you from deportation even without a criminal charge. I’ve even read a story about a naturalized citizen that got his US Citizenship stripped from him but this was an rare and extreme case that had to do with terrorism. America as great as it is, still has its issues and if you are requiring credible evidence about racist, unfair, and murderous country. Check with the KKK and other groups who have caused terror in the south and still yet to be name a domestic terrorist organization, unfair check the recent Asian Student Group vs Harvard lawsuit regarding admissions policies, and murderous just ask the remaining Native Americans. Yes this is the land of milk and honey, but milk goes bad and honey has a process in which we can eat it.

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