As a basically backdoor way to get some of the parts of Trump’s Muslim targeting travel bans enacted after all, the State Department has officially proposed new, tough regulations for visa applicants.
The regulations, if enacted, would have visa applicants answer questions about their background that stretch back at least 15 years, although it’s not immediately clear what good that would do. As the State Department’s proposal itself notes, most of the information in question is already collected, just for a span of 5 years in the past, not 15.
The Trump Administration is just paranoid and eager to please its bigoted base.
The regulations, if put into effect, would allow the State Department to dive so deeply into visa applicants’ backgrounds that they’d collect social media account information, something which is currently done on a “voluntary” basis at the Department of Homeland Security.
The full list of items of information to be collected from visa applicants should the regulations go into effect is featured below.
- Travel history during the last fifteen years, including source of funding for travel
- Address history during the last fifteen years
- Employment history during the last fifteen years
- All passport numbers and country of issuance held by the applicant
- Names and dates of birth for all siblings
- Name and dates of birth for all children
- Names and dates of birth for all current and former spouses, or civil or domestic partners
- Social media platforms and identifiers, also known as handles, used during the last five years
The “emergency approval” that the State Department is seeking for the new regulations only lasts for 180 days; it’s not clear if the regulations would be poised continue beyond those 180 days. The original Muslim targeting travel bans, which The Hill notes included some of these just proposed regulations, were also only meant to last for a few months, and the logic behind that time limit still isn’t clear.
The State Department estimates the number of individuals who would be affected by the measure, should it go into effect, as 65,000, or one half of one percent of the annual number of visa applicants. Those affected by the rules change include those who have “been in an area while the area was under the operational control of a terrorist organization” that is officially recognized by U.S. law as such.
In short, the Trump Administration’s idea of how to go about accepting visa applicants from ISIS controlled areas includes an almost certainly arbitrary review of applicants’ social media accounts.
Intriguingly enough, the State Department’s official proposal states the following: “Failure to provide requested information will not necessarily result in visa denial.”
The regulations are currently under consideration for approval by the White House Office of Management and Budget, headed by former Congressman Mick Mulvaney. They are supposed to be available for public comment on the OMB’s website, but when you hover over the “Submit Public Comment” feature on the webpage, a message appears reading “That feature is not available for this document.”
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