United States takes Tonga off list of countries eligible for H-2A and H-2B seasonal work visas

Kuo fakata’e’aonga’i ‘e ‘Amelika e kau ‘a Tonga ki he’ene polokalama ngāue fakafa’ahi ta’u he’ene ngaahi ngoue’anga mo faama ‘akau fua’. Natula tatau pe faingamalie ngāue ko ‘eni mo e ngāue toli ‘oku fengāue’aki ai ‘a Tonga mo Nu’u Sila mo ‘Aositelēlia’. Na’e hanga ‘e he pule’anga ‘o Donald Trump ‘o hiki hake fika ‘o e kau ngāue toli ko ‘eni ki he toko taha kilu taha afe. Ka kuo kaniseli mei ai 'a Tonga ia tupu mei he fakafisi ‘a e pule'anga ke tali ke tu’uta atu e ngaahi vakapuna puna makehe ‘a ‘Amelika ke fakafoki atu ai ‘a e kau Tonga kuo fiema’u ke tipooti leva mei ‘Amelika’. Ko e polokalama ngāue fakafa’ahi ta’u ‘eni ‘a ‘Amelika ma’a e ngaahi fonua muli’ kuo ‘iloa ko e H-2A mo e H-2B. Fakatatau ki he Sitetisitika’ mei he 1992 ki Sanuali 2016 kuo fe’unga mo e toko 700 ‘a e kau Tonga kuo tipota’i mei ‘Amelika ki Tonga’.

Tonga has been taken off the list of countries whose citizens are eligible for  American seasonal and guest worker visas.

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The H-2A and H-2B visa programmes allow employers to bring foreign nationals to the United States to fill temporary agricultural and non-agricultural jobs, respectively. 

Tonga has already lost the chance to take part in the January recruitment for New Zealand’s RSE scheme. 

The New Zealand government wanted all RSE workers repatriated  before Tonga could be allocated a  new share of the 2000 employees who were expected to arrive in New Zealand this month.

Tonga was the only Pacific nation with RSE workers left in New Zealand. 

The Trump administration raised the number of guest worker visas to 101,000 last year.

However, the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency has designated Tonga as “At Risk of Non-Compliance” with American requirements.

This is because of Tonga’s refusal to accept ICE charter flights for the repatriation of its nationals who have been ordered removed from the United States. 

Human rights groups and media investigations have found evidence of deportees being shackled for most of the deportation flights, poorly fed and not provided with adequate medical support.

There have also been reports of deportees with Covid-19 being flown by ICE, spreading the virus through detention centres.

The Guardian has reported that despite warnings from activists and medical professionals, ICE has continued flying immigration detainees across the United States and around the world on its network of private planes throughout the pandemic. 

“Tonga’s inconsistent co-operation with the United States regarding the return of its nationals and citizens with final orders of removal does not serve the U.S. Interest,” the agency said.

“Therefore, the Secretary of Homeland Security, with the concurrence of the Secretary of State, is removing Tonga from the list of H-2A and H-2B eligible countries.” 

Statistics show that the United States deported 700 criminals to Tonga between 1992 and January 2016, an average of 29 criminals a year. 

In 2018 former Deputy Prime Minister Siaosi Sovaleni said about 400 Tongans had been deported from the US, Australia and New Zealand since 2012. 

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