USA_Passport_StampIn a remarkable move, the State Department has decided to halt visa issuance to Gambian government officials according to the October 1 Washington Times. The last time this sanction was applied was against Guyana in 2001 – and then it was an anomaly. The stoppage is required by law for countries that refuse to take back their nationals who the U.S. wants to deport. Because of continuous foot-dragging by the State Department, this sanction of visa suspension is one that has repeatedly been urged on the administration by FAIR and others including members of Congress.

The State Department said that the visa suspension is an extreme measure, but that it had no choice. It did not explain why it was being implemented now – just before the election – when it had been resisted during all the previous years of the Obama administration including Secretary Clinton’s tenure. It also did not explain why the visa suspension has not been effected for the other larger countries that have even more of their nationals in the deportation backlog than the nearly 2,000 Gambians ordered deported.

Most, if not all of the Gambians have been turned loose under a Supreme Court ruling that aliens may not be held indefinitely awaiting deportation, so, if Gambia capitulates and agrees to take back its nationals, ICE will now face the difficult and potentially dangerous task of locating and taking back into custody these aliens.