The U.S. government announced visa sanctions Wednesday against four countries that will not repatriate citizens who have committed crimes in the U.S. and been deported. The sanctions, effective immediately, are as follows:

  • Cambodia: The U.S. embassy will stop issuing temporary U.S. tourist or business visas to high-ranking diplomats and their families;
  • Eritrea: The U.S. embassy will stop issuing all U.S. tourist and business visas;  
  • Guinea: The U.S. embassy will stop issuing U.S. tourist, business, student and exchange visas to government officials and their families;  
  • Sierra Leone: The U.S. embassy will stop issuing U.S. tourist and business visas to all diplomats and their families.

Without security, there can be no travel. We absolutely want countries to take back their criminal nationals. We are also encouraged that the State Department tailored sanctions for each country, presumably depending upon each’s threat profile and willingness to cooperate.

However, in the wake of these sanctions, we urge the Trump administration to embrace the president’s deal-making nature, and work with the governments of these countries to ensure that the ship gets righted and the sanctions do not continue indefinitely.

The best way to achieve the U.S. government’s goal of smarter visa security is through methods of incentive and leverage—the “carrot and stick” approach. There are significant economic benefits to be gained by this practice. As my boss Roger Dow recently said, a “sticks-only” approach could simply result in non-compliant countries, and leave the U.S. government without a path to the security standards it seeks. Providing a roadmap for these recently sanctioned countries, and then rewarding them when they adhere to U.S. security standards, will give the U.S. the results we want.

The travel community is fully in support of accountability in our visa security policies. However, President Trump must remember that the end game is rehabilitation, not punishment for its own sake. That would be the wrong way to go about this, and a bad deal for all involved.