Last week, President Trump signed an executive order that cancels a 2012 rule requiring the State Department to interview 80% of nonimmigrant visa applicants within three weeks of receipt of application.
“The president expects careful, accurate vetting of visa applicants, not a rushed process to accommodate an arbitrary deadline,” said White House spokesman Michael Short.
The executive order directs the DHS and the State Department to design a new implementation plan for visa processing.
So far, the State Department has asked officials to increase screening for visa applicants by identifying “populations warranting increased scrutiny” and is requiring social media checks for anyone who has recently been to ISIS-controlled area of Syria and Iraq.
“[The order] is just one aspect of a much larger playbook now underway,” said Stewart Verdery, who worked for the DHS during the Bush Administration.
Improving vetting procedures has been a central part of Trump’s promise to strengthen the fight against terrorism, but his efforts to enact a travel ban have been stymied liberal courts.
The Administration revealed a revised travel ban on March 6th, but a US District Court Judge in Hawaii blocked it just hours before it was set to begin.
In early June, Trump asked the Supreme Court to reinstate the travel ban while they prepare to hear the case. This week, the court allowed much of the ban to be put into place, excepting travelers with a “credible claim of bona fide relationship.”
Travelers seeking to come to the US for professional reasons will also be allowed in the country – if they can show a relationship that is “formal, documented, and formed in the ordinary course rather than for the purpose of evading” the travel ban.
Trump praised the Supreme Court’s decision as a “clear victory for our national security.”
“Today’s ruling allows me to use an important tool for protecting our nation’s homeland,” said Trump. “ I am also particularly gratified that the Supreme Court’s decision was 9-0.”
The executive order on visa processing will work in tandem with the travel ban, which “mandates a worldwide review of vetting procedures and also prevents consulates from waiving visa interviews for repeat applicants,” reports The Hill.
Author’s Note: It was Trump’s intention to enact the travel ban abruptly so that terrorists would be locked out, but the legal delays have prevented the surprise factor.
At least now we’re getting a version of the ban, and it is likely the Supreme Court will vindicate Trump when it hears the case in the fall.