Both Ghana and the United States of America are currently engaged in accusations and counter-accusations over the intended deportation of 7,000 Ghanaians alleged being detained in the North America country for breaching immigration laws. Most of these Ghanaians have reportedly overstayed their visas, contrary to the immigration laws of the US.
The US has, subsequently, gone ahead to impose limited visa sanctions on Ghana, which affect mainly our diplomatic staff. They are threatening to extend the sanction to the wider population should Ghana fail to change her mind and cooperate with them.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, on its part, is denying that over 7,000 Ghanaians are illegally staying in the US. According to the Ministry, the 7000 figure being bandied around is not on paper, and that it has just been verbally told without any requisite documents to back the claim.
Ghana has also indicated that, as at January 8, 2019, our Washington Mission had received 28 applications from the US authorities, out of which 19 had been interviewed by the Embassy, and 11 travelling certificates issued for their travel to Ghana.
Ghana is, again, arguing that as is the requirement, and in accordance with international law, the Ghana Embassy in Washington DC undertakes identification and verification processes to ensure that all persons earmarked for deportation to Ghana are bona fide citizens of this country.
All countries, according to a statement issued by the Foreign Ministry over the weekend, undertake these processes to accept their deported citizens from all over the world, and it is not peculiar to Ghana and the US.
If the explanation given by the Foreign Ministry is really a true reflection of the situation on the ground, then The Chronicle is at sea as to why the US government will impose sanctions on us. You claim to be detaining 7,000 Ghanaians, but, at the end of the day, you submitted only 28 applications to the Ghana Embassy to process, and have turned round to impose sanctions over alleged non-compliance. This obviously doesn’t add up, but the hands of Ghana are being forced to accept what is not hers.
But, instead of folding up her arms, The Chronicle is urging the government to use diplomatic channels to have the misunderstanding resolved. The fact that the US Embassy in Accra has not come out to deny the facts put out there by the Foreign Ministry means that the US government is only trying to use bullying tactics to cow Ghana into submission, which shouldn’t be so.
Though the US action may sound outrageous, it is a wake-up call on the government to streamline acquisition of passports in the country. It is an undeniable fact that foreign nationals have acquired Ghanaian passports and are using them to cause problems for the country abroad. Per the Foreign Ministry’s own statement, the Ghanaian identities of some of the people they have interviewed are doubtful. This means the people are not Ghanaians, but they managed to use certain (fraudulent or illegal) means to acquire the Ghanaian passports.
Much as we are against the bullying tactics being deployed by the US, they cannot declare the people they are holding as being Ghanaians if they did not have the documented facts. Why they are refusing to make the proof available to Ghana is the problem we are contending with.
We should not forget about the fact that the fingerprints of applicants are taken whenever they apply for the US visas. At the point of entry also, the fingerprints are taken. Because of this data in their possession, the US immigration officials usually take the fingerprints of the people they suspect to have overstayed their visas and run it through their system.
With this technology, they are able to determine the country the migrant is coming from, even though he or she may not be in possession of any passport at the time of his/her arrest. We are unable to determine whether Ghana has averted her mind to this modern way of tracking illegal migrants, but if she has not done that, then we better revise our notes before raising our fingers against the world’s most powerful nation.