Combined efforts from the departments of State and Homeland Security under the Obama and Trump administrations have reduced nations blocking transfers of illegal immigrants by half, the Washington Examiner reports. An ICE official told the Examiner‘s Washington Secrets: “Working with our partners at the Department of State, ICE has made significant progress over the past year to improve cooperation on removals – including reducing the number of recalcitrant countries from 23 in May 2016 to 12 in May 2017. The recent agreement with the government of Iraq is one example, and we will continue our efforts to encourage greater cooperation.” In regards to Iraq, the Trump administration influenced the middle eastern country to end its policies that barred the return of criminal aliens by exempting Iraq from the president’s controversial travel ban. The Trump administration is looking to reduce the list of noncompliant nations even further in the context of the recent crackdown on illegal immigration. Jessica Vaughan, the director of policy studies at the Center of Immigration Studies, told the Examiner: “I am confident that the number of deadbeat countries can be reduced even further – for starters, China and Hong Kong should be the focus of pressure. On the at-risk list, there is no way places like Bermuda should be stiff-arming us. Others, like Brazil, Egypt, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria and Pakistan, have a lot to lose if they don’t cooperate more fully. There are plenty of visa programs that could be turned off in a heartbeat if they do not improve very soon.” Dane Wilcox of the Immigration Reform Law Institute attributed the progress to an unprecedented will to enforce immigration laws in the Trump White House. He told the Examiner: “ICE, along with the State Department, has the legislative authority to punish these countries. However, it was almost never been used in past administrations. That’s now changing. President Trump appears to understand that if people think they can come here illegally and stay even after being caught, more will keep coming.” For more, click here.