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October 5, 2019

Interior Ministry officials probe detainees in US jails


October 5, 2019

WASHINGTON: A two-member Pakistani team concluded its weeklong trip here, which was arranged to investigate a list of people detained by the US Immigration Services.

The News has learnt through sources that an official from National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) along with Director Immigration, Federal Investigation Agency, Nasir Mehmood Satti was sent to probe scores of individuals presumed as Pakistani nationals but detained by the US authorities for wrongdoings. Such individuals usually are without proper documentation proving their actual nationality.

The team held meetings with the US State Department officials as well as the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, a federal law agency under the department of Homeland Security, principally responsible for immigration enforcement, with additional responsibilities in countering transnational crimes.

During their weeklong stay, the two Interior Ministry officials from Islamabad conducted interviews and investigations with jailed individuals in various detention centers. In their first such trip, both officials visited detention centers in the states of Virginia, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania and Houston. Such detainees, apparently, lack proper documentation linking them to Pakistan but are considered to be Pakistani nationals. The details of such interviews and the outcome of the probe has not been shared yet.

Over the last few months, the US and Pakistan have held various high and staff level meetings to resolve the issue of undocumented individuals considered to be deported by the US authorities.

In May, US authorities deported some sixty individuals that were confirmed as Pakistani nationals. All those individuals were detained and prosecuted for immigration violations, criminal conduct and other serious charges. The authorities arranged a special chartered plane to ship out the detainees back to Islamabad.

The decision to ship out those individuals came on the heels of the warning issued earlier that the imposed visa sanction policy might also withhold visas of Pakistani senior officials and not just of ordinary travelers. Pakistan back then was the latest to join the list of ten countries that were facing such sanctions under a law according to which countries refusing to take back deportees and visa over-stayers could be denied America visas.

Under Section 243 (d) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, the Secretary of State is required to discontinue granting immigration or non-immigrant visas to a nation upon receiving notice from the Homeland Security Secretary that the country has denied or is unreasonably delaying accepting a citizen, subject, national or resident of that country.

A senior official from the Pakistani embassy here had confirmed to The News that the discussion to resolve the matter were going on. The official had said that the situation was being monitored and improved as a result of which Pakistan had also revised its visa policy and included the United States in its list of countries whose businessmen can avail themselves of long-term visas and even on-arrival visa facilities.

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