President Donald Trump on Friday said the U.S. government could impose visa sanctions on countries that refuse or unreasonably delay accepting people returned from the United States.
In a memorandum to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Trump cited the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and the need to ensure “the repatriation of foreign nationals who violate the laws of the United States.”
Pompeo must within seven days “initiate a plan to impose the visa sanctions” if the Homeland Security Department determines a country not accepting returnees is delaying or impeding operations “necessary to respond to the ongoing pandemic.”
The order did not name any countries.
The Trump administration implemented new border rules on March 21, citing the coronavirus pandemic.
Under those rules, U.S. officials can quickly remove people without standard immigration proceedings. Overall, U.S. border officials have expelled nearly 7,000 migrants to Mexico since the new procedures took effect, Reuters reported this week.
Trump has made restricting immigration a central goal of his administration.