By WCCO-TV Staff

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Rep. Ilhan Omar and other U.S. lawmakers are calling on the Department of Homeland Security to drop visa sanctions that were enacted under former President Trump.

On Tuesday, Omar’s office announced a letter has been sent to Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas and Secretary of State Antony Blinken. In it, the letter says the sanctions have led to “significant increase” in deportations of African asylum seekers and Southeast Asia refugees.

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“We write to express our deep concerns about the Department of Homeland Security’s continued implementation of the 243(d) visa sanctions enacted under the Trump Administration, despite revocation of Executive Order 13768,” the letter said. “The visa sanctions continue to harm refugees and asylum seekers in the United States by tearing families apart and forcing governments seeking to harm asylum seekers to repatriate those individuals.”

The lawmakers wrote that, among the many visa sanctions placed on African and Southeast Asia countries, of particular concern are the sanctions that continue in Laos, which prevent the processing of all immigration visas for Hmong, Lao and Laotians seeking to immigrate to the U.S.

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“These sanctions have left Hmong and Laotian refugee families indefinitely separated; prevented U.S. citizens from sponsoring family members and fiancées; and kept otherwise eligible Laotian nationals from immigrating to the United States,” the letter said.

The lawmakers want the sanctions on Burma, Burundi, Cambodia, Eritrea, and Laos lifted — as well as a full review of all 243(d) visa sanctions enacted by Trump.

The letter is signed by Reps. Karen Bass, Sara Jacobs, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Yvette Clarke, Ayanna Pressley, Pramila Jayapal, Alan Lowenthal, Judy Chu, Mark Pocan and J. Luis Correa.

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