By Omar Bah
The United States Ambassador to The Gambia, Patricia Alsup has said that the reason for the deportation of people from the counrty including Gambians is because they violated US laws.
“The US, like the Gambia has the right to deport people who violate our laws. The US is a country based on rule of law and that includes immigration laws,” she told GRTS Check Point recently.
The Ambassador explained that United States does not deport people until they had a chance to go before an immigration judge to plead their case to stay in the US.
“It is only after they have exhausted all of their legal options that a judge will order them deported from the US,” she said.
Asked why the massive deportation now, Ambassador Alsup said: “This has been happening for a while and we have been asking for a travel documents for several Gambians for many years. But it was in 2015 that we have been able to get the travel documents that we need to deport Gambians…We cannot just deport them back without some proof of where they came from.”
On whether the deportees are prepared to reconnect with their families back home, Ambassador Alsup said they do not prepare them for that, “We simply follow the orders that we are given by the judge and it is our department of Immigration and Customs Enforcement that is responsible for actually regrouping people and deporting them to their countries.”
On whether Gambia is prepared to handle such people, Ambassador Alsup intimated that the main point is that they have been “violating US laws and once they have been ordered to be deported, we are obliged to deport them back to The Gambia.”
Asked why visa rejections among Gambians are so high, Ambassador Alsup said she is not surprise that people are complaining about the high rate of visa refusals. “But I have to say that one of the reasons it is so high is because of the high overstay rate among Gambians in the USA. Many Gambians go to the United States and stay and it makes it harder for a Gambian to apply to overcome the assumption that they would stay in the US. When they go for interview with the consul officer, they have to convince the consul officer that they are going for a visit because we do not give immigrant visas…We only deal with visitors’ visas and it makes it very hard to do that,” she stated.
She said the recent statistics of overstay rate has shown that the rate is high among Gambians compared to the worldwide average or even to the average in the continent.
Asked why Gambians still decide to emigrate to the US, Alsup said: “I imagine that under the previous regime there are many reasons that people wanted to leave to go to the US and stay…But I believe that now under the current regime that people should have more hope and they should not be as much resentful people to want to migrate to the US.”