An immigration enforcement advocacy organization is praising the Trump administration for convincing several uncooperative countries to take back their citizens being deported from the United States.
The Washington Times reports that between "cajoling, threats, and actual punishments," Homeland Security has managed to drastically cut the number of countries that habitually refuse to take back citizens whom the U.S. is trying to deport, notching an early immigration success for President Trump.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials say the number of obstinate countries has dropped from 20 to 12 in the months since the presidential election, including longtime offenders Iraq and Somalia. According to The Times, the "naughty list" is the shortest it's been this decade.
In an interview with OneNewsNow, Ira Mehlman with the Federation for American Immigration Reform said it's extraordinary that the federal government hasn't used the leverage it's had on these governments for a long time.
"These countries have been responding to the fact that they could get away with it – and in fact we do have a lot of leverage," he stated. "There's all kinds of diplomatic and economic pressure that we can put on these governments and we have chosen not to."
The Trump administration, he continued, is choosing to actually use some of this leverage – "And the result is that some of these countries have decided You know what? Maybe we will take our people back."
A spokesperson for the Center for Immigration Studies told The Times that Trump and his Homeland Security Department should get most of the credit for the changes, citing this administration's use of "ramping up pressure" instead of the diplomatic letters employed by the Obama administration.
Mehlman said, however, some problematic countries – like Cuba – still refuse to cooperate.
"[Since] we are now going through the process of normalizing relations with Cuba, we can start imposing conditions on how we go about normalizing those relations," he suggested. "And one of those conditions should be that they take back people who are being deported from the United States for whatever reason we decide. There are other countries that may be a little more problematic, like China."
Countries still on the "naughty list" (along with Cuba and China) are Burma, Cambodia, Eritrea, Guinea, Iran, Laos, Morocco, South Sudan, and Vietnam; Hong Kong is a new addition. Other countries dropped from the list were Afghanistan, Algeria, Burkina Faso, the Gambia, Mali, Senegal, and Sierra Leone.