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Sanctions the best cure? Trump signs order laying out visa sanctions for countries that ‘delay or deny’ return of their citizens

Sanctions the best cure? Trump signs order laying out visa sanctions for countries that ‘delay or deny’ return of their citizens
US President Donald Trump has signed an order envisioning penalties for foreign nations that are reluctant to take back their citizens or residents as the coronavirus ravages the US, citing “public health risks.”

“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,” the memo released by the White House late on Friday states.

The document instructs acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf to notify US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo if any foreign government is reluctant to welcome back its citizens or residents after “being asked to accept those aliens” and in case “such denial or delay” impedes “operations... necessary to respond to the ongoing pandemic.”

After receiving the data, the secretary of state will have seven days to come up with a plan to impose “visa sanctions” on countries that disobey Washington’s orders.

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The sanctions could be lifted if the country being penalized for refusing to accept its citizens from the US (which has emerged as the new Covid-19 hotbed with over 500,000 confirmed cases) changes its mind and resumes taking back its citizens, nationals or residents.

The US has also stirred controversy as it continues mass deportations of foreign nationals, even to countries considered ill-equipped to deal with the coronavirus pandemic. Earlier this week, it deported several dozen Haitian migrants. Haiti’s foreign minister, Claude Joseph, said that none of the 61 deportees had been tested for the virus before they boarded the plane.

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There are a growing number of instances in which migrants sent back to their home countries by the US later test positive for Covid-19. At least three Guatemalan migrants were confirmed to have the virus after being deported, the authorities of the Central American country reported on Tuesday, a day after they put deportation flights from the US on hold, fearing further spread of the disease which has killed over 102,000 worldwide, including nearly 18,000 in the US.

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