The long lingering case of a Chinese national resisting a removal order from the U.S. has exposed a serious weakness in America’s immigration system.
As detailed in the Matter of H-Y-Z-, a citizen of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) was denied asylum by a U.S. immigration judge on June 28, 2004. The Chinese national, who was not identified, had previously been issued a warning for filing a “deliberately fabricated” claim.
While under removal orders, the applicant took her case to the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA), where she was denied in October 2005. In December 2006, the Third Circuit Court of Appeal dismissed her appeal, supposedly closing the case.
Still, the woman did not leave the country. Fourteen years after the administrative decision was made final, she filed a motion to reopen her case. That, too, was rejected.
BIA last month affirmed the final removal notice, and imposed monetary penalties of up to $813 for each day of violation. A decade and a half of due process would seem to be enough.
This rigmarole, asserts Andrew Arthur of the Center for Immigration Studies, stems from China’s status as a “recalcitrant country,” which refuses to accept return of its citizens under removal orders, or slow walks the process. That may explain how Ms. H-Y-Z- is in this country under a final order of removal — yet not removed.
Remedies are available. Section 243(d) of the Immigration and Nationality Act provides that if a country refuses to accept its nationals ordered removed by the U.S., the State Department can stop issuing visas to residents of the recalcitrant nation. In 2017, President Donald Trump directed the Department of Homeland Security and the State Department to coordinate accordingly.
But while sanctions were imposed on tourist and business visas for certain government officials from Cambodia, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Burma, Laos, Ghana, Pakistan and Eritrea, China remains untouched.
“Sanctions have never been imposed on the PRC, despite the fact that there are a huge number of Chinese nationals under final orders of removal,” Arthur reports. “In FY 2019 alone, 27,541 immigrant visas were issued to Chinese nationals (not counting Hong Kong). They were issued an astounding 1,255,992 nonimmigrant visas.”
Last year, more than 2,000 PRC nationals were under final removal orders, a number that trails only Mexico and the Northern Triangle countries of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. It is not known how many of the Chinese citizens actually went home.
Among the Chinese nationals in this country are some 363,000 on student visas. The American university system is a massive asset for the PRC because Chinese students study here and return home with new skills. Threats to block this intelligence transfer might be enough to bring Beijing to heel. Or maybe not.
“China has so much trade with the United States … and sends so many of its nationals, the United States apparently cannot afford to impose visa sanctions,” Arthur suggests. “So decades pass, and Chinese nationals under removal orders remain — even if they filed frivolous asylum applications.”
Simple as H-Y-Z-.