There is nothing new in US complaints about China’s lack of cooperation in repatriating its deported citizens.
Nevertheless, the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs has suspended cooperation in such cases in retaliation for Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan.
China has also canceled other efforts to keep communication channels open with Washington. These included attempts to coordinate air and sea operations to prevent unintended outbreaks, for example, by warships operating in close proximity to each other at sea.
The tit-for-tat over deportees may escalate because, under US law, the Biden administration can punish countries that refuse to cooperate with deportations by refusing to issue new visas to citizens of that country.
Section 243(d) of the Immigration and Nationality Act allows the United States to retaliate against countries that do not repatriate deportees:
In 2021, the United States began distributing notices “suspending” the issuance of visas for certain people:
When the Secretary of Homeland Security notifies the Secretary of State that the PRC has complied with U.S. requests to accept its national(s), normal visa issuance will resume. A consular officer will review your application and reassess your eligibility for the visa classification sought at that time, and may contact you if necessary about this.
Now, the Biden administration may feel pressure to expand the reach of those visa sanctions.
The cooperation Washington is seeking is for Beijing to verify the citizenship of people with final orders to deport them from the United States, a process that could require visits to remote villages and towns to search household records.
Without such cooperation, the United States must pay the cost of detention or risk those released from detention fleeing.