General News of Thursday, 13 July 2017
There are conflicting reports over the number of Ghanaians to be deported from the United States of America this year.
While the US Embassy in Ghana insists that 7,000 Ghanaians will be sent back home after the detection of their illegal stay in the country, Ghana’s Foreign Affairs Ministry claims that only 365 Ghanaians have been penned down to be deported from the US.
Foreign Affairs Minister Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey made the clarification when she appeared before parliament to answer a question from North Tongu MP Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa.
Ms Botchwey told the lawmakers: “Following claims made by the United States Ambassador to Ghana, Mr Robert Jackson, that 7000 Ghanaian illegal immigrants in the US were awaiting deportation, the Embassy of Ghana in Washington DC was requested to urgently confirm the claims with the relevant authorities and report back promptly to headquarters.
“According to the mission, when the enquiry was submitted to the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency, they were unable to confirm whether the number of Ghanaian deportees was 7000. Rather, the mission was informed that 180 Ghanaians were under deportation orders while an additional 185 cases were at various stages of processing pending final deportation orders.
“The United States authorities further noted that 80 out of the 180 who had already been interviewed by the Washington DC mission and consulate in New York were due to be deported in June 2017 while the remaining 100 were yet to be interviewed. The ministry was informed that because of the legal processes involved, the deportation exercise would have to be staggered. Subsequently, the ICE on 14 June, 2017 effected the repatriation of 63 out of the 80 cleared for deportation who arrived on a chartered flight on the said date. The deportees’ offences range from drug-related offences, asylum…and credit card fraud to immigration-related offences.
“It was confirmed that all the deportees exhausted the legal processes to remain in the United States prior to their being removed to Ghana. Following the arrival of the 63 deportees, the ministry caused a note verbale to be transmitted to US authorities through the United States Embassy in Accra registering the government of Ghana’s concern about the process and the alleged treatment of the Ghanaians during the flight to Ghana.”
In a related development, Mrs Botchwey disclosed that Ghana’s Embassy in Saudi Arabia has begun processing over 800 illegal Ghanaian immigrants back home.
Saudi Arabia has extended its three-month amnesty for illegal immigrants to 24th July, 2017, by which time illegal residents are to leave or be sanctioned by the authorities.
According to Mrs Botchwey, government will subsidise the travelling costs of these individuals back to Ghana.