US official on visa revocations: ‘Security is foremost in our mind’

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has outlined that the issue of security is at the fore when assessments are being made in relation to individuals who are allowed into his country.

He was responding to a journalist’s question regarding the revocation of the US visas of a current and former government minister and the negative way in which this may have painted Jamaica on the international stage.

“I can’t respond to the specific—and we don’t talk about decisions we make in granting visas—but the Jamaican people should know we grant hundreds, thousands of permits for Jamaicans to travel to America…,” Pompeo said during a press conference at Jamaica House in Kingston on Wednesday (Jan 22).

Pompeo added: “We have a process by which we evaluate each and every person who seeks entry into the United States. It is an even process, a fair handed process and we do our best to make sure that if we get such a decision wrong we continue to review it so that we can ensure that we are doing the right thing. We, just like Jamaica, have security interests. When we think about how we approach these problems, that’s always foremost in our mind.”

Daryl Vaz, a member of the Andrew Holness Cabinet, had his US Visa revoked last year. The visa of former Government Minister Phillip Paulwell was also revoked while he was on a trip to Cuba. Vaz has since said publicly that he was challenging the decision to revoke his passport. He said that he would resign from the cabinet should the US fail to restore his visa.

Pompeo is in Jamaica for roundtable talks with the country and several other Caribbean nations.