U.S Deportation Numbers going Up, Up, Up…

What could the ease and increasing U.S deportation numbers have to do with Trade? Nothing. Right? Here’s why you may be wrong.

Mr. Kwame Nkrumah, is a proud man not only because he shares a name with a great African icon but also because despite his 2003 removal order, he had managed to make something of himself and had recently closed on his American Dream home in a quiet suburban neighborhood. His kids, teenagers now were excelling in school. To wit, he had saved his family from perpetual disgrace by renovating their ancestral homestead back home. “My workmates refuse to understand the significance of having a presentable village home…” The village was not in Ghana, as you may have guessed, but in Congo-Brazzaville.

Despite a barrage of executive orders and proclamations , In fact, the number has held steady in recent years at just over 11 million, after peaking in 2007 at about 12.2 million, according to a Sept. 2016 report from Pew Research Center.

Kenyans recently woke up to news that 110 of their fellow Kenyans had been deported from the U.S. This has increasingly been the case with deportations from the U.S. since Mr.Trump assumed presidency and the branch charged with the task of deportations; Immigration and Customs Enforcement or “ICE” is celebrating their new-found success according to a report on their website.

Last year, Boston’s hitherto secure Irish community got a wake-up call when John Cunningham, an undocumented Irish immigrant was deported.

Interior removals were also significantly higher in FY2017 than they were the year before. Interior removals basically refer to deportations of those immigrants already within the U.S who have been found deportable or undocumented and consequently transported back to their countries of origin by ICE. In FY2017, ICE removed more than 81,000 aliens from the interior of the country. More than 61,000 of those removals occurred after January 20, which is an increase of 37% over the same time period in FY2016. “While the historic low in U.S. Custom and Border Protection’s (CBP) border apprehensions led to a slight decline in overall removal numbers, ICE’s strong interior enforcement efforts nearly made up the difference.”

In addition, the number of countries who do not cooperate in the return of their nationals was reduced from 12 in April 2017, to just nine by the end of the year. Furthermore, the number of countries who are at risk of being labeled uncooperative has fallen from 47 to 36. The U.S. also applied visa sanctions to four countries in FY2017 for failure to cooperate, which sends a clear message: cooperate or face consequences.

For years, like so many other beleaguered immigrants, Mr. Nkrumah was placed under supervision (in lieu of deportation) by ICE and was required to “check-in” about once or twice every year. An order of supervision (OSUP) is issued on a case-by-case basis by ICE to those individuals with final orders of removal. One of the main reasons he was not yet deported was that he lacked a valid Passport or travel document issued by his country of origin. With every “check-in” ICE expected him to show up with a valid passport or proof of his attempts at procuring one. As proof, he presented a letter from his country’s embassy stating that they were not able to provide one and that was all there was to it – not in the Trump era. Mr. Nkrumah’s uneasy relationship with ICE just made a turn for dire straits. In a desperate attempt to avoid being “labeled uncooperative” Congo-Brazzaville, and other similarly situated countries, are availing travel documents directly to ICE upon demand. Well-documented stories, reports with personal accounts abound of ICE under the Dept of Homeland Security (DHS) “icing” deportable immigrants out of their warm American existence without valid travel documents.

DHS announced, in coordination with DOS, the implementation of visa sanctions on four countries, three of which are African – Eritrea, Guinea, and Sierra Leone due to a lack of cooperation in accepting their nationals who were ordered removed from the United States. Specific sanctions were effective since 9/13/17. P

The Trump administration is doggedly pulling all the stops to implement its anti-immigration policies. Besides the visa sanctions, African countries, in particular, are being targeted from all fronts – tiny landlocked Rwanda being the latest target with a trade ban under the AGOA program. President Trump suspended Rwanda’s participation in a program that allows African countries to export apparel to the United States on a duty-free basis, citing the country’s refusal to permit U.S. exports of used clothing. Rwanda, known for extolling the dignity of its people refuses to budge, noteworthy is that the ban on secondhand clothes was agreed upon by all East African countries in 2016, Uganda and Tanzania agreed to “cooperate” while Kenya bailed out almost immediately. It is not surprising that Kenya is also accepting planeloads of deportees.

Trump said US close on NAFTA revision but threatened pullout.

In Mexico, thanks to using the Merida Initiative  the US is gathering biometric data of migrant detainees (over 30,000 so far) in a move that may jeopardize this little-known sensitive program. This data has helped ICE in identifying more deportees. This unprecedented “cooperation” and access by Mexico, follows incessant US threats to quit the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). There are many more examples of US increasingly dangling the proverbial carrot to ensure cooperation from poorer countries – El Salvador, Ecuador, Guatemala, Congo-Brazzaville, Kenya and others.

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