The government failed to address concerns raised by the United States government about delays in issuing travel documents to Ghanaians awaiting deportation in the US, Clement Apaak, MP for Builsa South has said.
The United States Embassy in a statement issued on Wednesday indicated that the government of Ghana was not complying with international obligations regarding the issuance of travel documents to Ghanaians awaiting deportation in the USA.
The statement said the US would be forced to begin implementing visa restrictions in accordance with its laws as a responsibility owed the American people.
The MP on Eyewitness News said the government did not show a keen interest in the matter when it was initially raised by the US Ambassador, Robert Jackson sometime ago.
He further revealed that several attempts to get the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration to brief Parliament on the terms of deportation had also not been successful as the Minister failed to show up.
“I have to be honest in saying that government has demonstrated its colossal lack of interest in this issue, and I say so because just about a month or so ago, Ghana’s Ambassador to the US was on record and even granted interviews to various media houses, indicating the discomfort that he was feeling and the fact that the American authorities were pressurizing him to sign a document that will grant the authorization for deportation of Ghanaians in the US believed to have entered that country illegally.”
“I had called the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration to come to the house and explain to the people’s representatives on what exactly is going on and to seek clarification from the Americans in terms of how many they should deport; whether they were going to come in one tranche or different tranches; what their records were in terms of any violations in US law; whether they had been allowed to exhaust due processes; whether their rights had been respected or whether they had family and property to leave behind if they were to be deported. Unfortunately neither government or the Minister paid heed and although I had gone on to file a question, the question is yet to be admitted.”
He believes the US would have probably shelved its threat if the government had intervened on time.
“To think that government had not acted for the Americans to go on to issue the statement they did yesterday is most unfortunate. If the government had been proactive, I think we would not have been at this level. If the government had engaged the Ambassadors earlier we could have gotten some clarification,” he said.
86 Ghanaians were deported from the US in March 2018
They were arrested in different states for various immigration offences like the abuse of the terms of their visas and engaging in illegal employment.
The deportees, all males, arrived on a chartered flight on Wednesday, March 14.
Indications are that they were detained for periods ranging from six and 12 months before being deported to Ghana.
In 2017, US Ambassador to Ghana, Robert Jackson, revealed that the Trump administration in America was set to deport over 7,000 Ghanaians who have abused the terms of their visas.
Stricter US visa restrictions
In September 2017, US President Donald Trump’s administration announced new visa standards, saying it will discontinue blanket bans in favour of restrictions based on factors like whether countries share information about travellers’ criminal histories or use electronic passports with embedded traveller information.
At the time, the US government said it would consider lifting restrictions on one or more countries if they “have improved their identity-management and information-sharing protocols and procedures,” according to the proclamation.
Miles Taylor, the counsellor to acting Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke, said: “The goal is not to indefinitely block certain nationals from coming to the United States. It is to protect Americans until foreign governments do comply with our standards and no longer pose a risk.”
“We had a range of countries, from total willful noncompliance and nonengagement to countries that maybe couldn’t meet the requirements but were interested in doing so,” Taylor said last week. “Some countries didn’t even have the courtesy to say, ‘Go fly a kite.’”
President Donald Trump also banned or restricted visas for travel to the United States from eight countries. The presidential restricted visas from six countries — Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen — and lifted restrictions on visitors from Sudan. It added new restrictions on visitors and immigrants from Chad, North Korea and Venezuela.
By: Marian Ansah/citinewsroom.com/Ghana