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Opinions of Friday, 4 November 2016

Columnist: Abugri, George Sydney

Visas, Uncle Sam and his plane load of deportees

“108 Ghanaians and Liberians deported from the United States.” Welcome home buddies, or rather wait one short second: Theirs was not the happiest home coming ever, and certainly not the most dignified: They arrived in Ghana on Wednesday on a chartered flight in hand cuffs and leg cuffs. They initially refused to disembark. Others, it was however also reported, had served jail terms in the United States for various offences including drug trafficking.

What else can we say, Jomo, to our compatriots who apparently went on misadventures in Yankee Land? Maybe, we might add that we hope they are returning to make wholesome contributions to this up-mountain task of building Ghana which we are engaged in. Maybe, we might also add that we hope they are not returning with guns and attitudes and things and will not, because of lifestyles they may have acquired, end up joining the ranks of you-know-who.

Closely tied to that headline, Jomo, is this other one that says “20 Ghanaians apply for travel visas with fake bank statements.” See? The world or at least our republic, is bursting from the seams with people so smart that they have forgotten every adjective has a superlative, and that there are smarter people at the embassies. Imagine jumping into a fiery lake of fire when others are clambering out for dear life!

Foreigners are deported from most countries when their removal is deemed ‘conducive to the public good.’ A deportation can also be recommended by a court in connection with a conviction for a criminal offence that carries a prison term.

Deportees are usually foreigners who have either entered a country illegally or deceptively {as in the case of the 20 applicants who used fake bank statements}, stayed in a country longer than their visa permitted or in some other way, violated the conditions of their permission to enter and/or remain in a country.

There is a good reason why the embassies request the bank statements of visa applicants. The embassies don’t want people to travel abroad and end up jobless, hungry, homeless, and trapped in crime or even worse.

That is why foreign diplomatic missions in the country go out of their way to ensure that visa applicants have enough funds to live on during their period of stay or meet their cost of their education in the case of prospective students.

Those bound for the UK who are lucky to be on government scholarships, usually have pretty little to worry about but self-financing students usually have to clear the first hurdle of convincing the British High Commission that they have enough money to meet their needs.

Those who are unable to provide bank statements to confirm that they have enough funds are refused visas.

Those without adequate funding who manage to hoodwink the British High Commission to grant them student visas with borrowed bank statements, usually do so to their ultimate regret: A good number end up with worthless pieces of paper as academic qualifications from rogue learning institutions. Some end up spending five or more instead of two years trying to study for a postgraduate degree.

A British diplomat recounted how a prospective traveller to the UK who succeeded in obtaining a student visa ended up begging for coins on the streets of London to buy food. He narrated the story to a student visa applicant who had problems convincing him {diplomat} that he had secured adequate funding for postgraduate studies in the UK.

The media must keep an eye n things and an ear to the ground with tow objectives in sight. One, to monitor the handling by the authorities, of the large number of returnees as a security issue and the integration and two to monitor how well they are able to reintegrate in to Ghanaian society and their communities and any challenges arising therefrom.

Don’t run off yet, Jomo. I have one last headline to dispose of: “We shall sabotage 2016 Elections-angry GPHA workers.” The police have riot gear and guns and teargas and water cannons and pepper sprayers and a responsibility to keep law and order, yah? It may be safer then to play with something else, don’t you think, Jomo?