Trump’s goal is to make the U.S. as safe as possible. His methods might seem cruel but don’t be fooled. He wants to make this country great for the citizens; those born here and those who came here. Liberals might tell you Trump is anti-immigration but we disagree. Where do you stand?
By Michael D Shear
The Trump administration is making it tougher for millions of visitors to enter the United States by demanding new security checks before giving visas to tourists, business travelers and relatives of American residents.
Diplomatic cables sent last week from Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson to all American embassies instructed consular officials to broadly increase scrutiny. It was the first evidence of the “extreme vetting” Mr. Trump promised during the presidential campaign.
The new rules generally do not apply to 38 countries — including most of Europe and longstanding allies like Australia, New Zealand, Japan and South Korea — whose citizens can be speedily admitted into the United States under the visa waiver program. No countries from the Middle East or Africa are part of the program. In 2016, the United States issued more than 10 million visas to foreign visitors.
Even stricter security checks for people from six predominantly Muslim nations remain on hold because federal courts have temporarily blocked President Trump’s travel ban.
But Mr. Trump and his national security team are not waiting to toughen the rules to decide who can enter the United States. Embassy officials must now scrutinize a broader pool of visa applicants to determine if they pose security risks to the United States, according to four cables sent between March 10 and March 17.
That extra scrutiny will include asking applicants detailed questions about their background and making mandatory checks of social media history if a person has ever been in territory controlled by the Islamic State.
Mr. Trump has spoken regularly of his concern about the threat of “radical Islamic terrorism” from immigrants. But it is unclear who, exactly, will be targeted for the extra scrutiny since Mr. Tillerson’s cables leave that decision up to security officers at each embassy.
Still, taken together, consular officials and immigration advocates said the administration’s moves will increase the likelihood of denial for those seeking to come to America, and will further slow down a bureaucratic approval process that can already take months or even years for those flagged for extra investigation.
There are legitimate reasons someone might be targeted, such as evidence of a connection to terrorism or crime. But advocates also said they worry about people being profiled for extra scrutiny because of their name or nationality.
“This will certainly slow down the screening process and impose a substantial burden on these applicants,” said Greg Chen, the director of advocacy for the American Immigration Lawyers Association. “It will make it much harder and create substantial delays.”
The cables from Mr. Tillerson, which were reported by Reuters, make clear that the Trump administration wants a more intense focus on the potential for a serious threat when making decisions about who should receive a visa.
“Consular officers should not hesitate to refuse any case presenting security concerns,” Mr. Tillerson wrote in the cables, titled “Implementing Immediate Heightened Screening and Vetting of Visa Applications.”