Do you remember those “extreme vetting procedures” we have heard about ever since the Trump administration issued its original executive order barring immigrants from seven countries? Well, it turns out the executive branch has been hard at work toughening up our policies regarding people seeking to obtain travel visas to enter the United States.
While he was in office, former President Obama issued an order instructing the State Department to “ensure that 80% of nonimmigrant visa applicants are interviewed within three weeks of receipt of application.” The Daily Caller states that Obama signed the order in 2012 to “create jobs and spur economic growth.”
The Trump administration rescinded this decree to make sure that officials can spend more time weeding out potential terrorists. The White House told The Hill: “This is a very straightforward step that removes an arbitrary requirement and ensures the State Department has the needed discretion to make real-world security determinations.” A State Department official told The Daily Caller that removing this particular provision will benefit the Department’s screening efforts by “providing additional flexibility to determine when longer processing times may be appropriate to accomplish our mission including allowing time for additional security screening.”
Earlier this week, the Trump administration won a major victory when the Supreme Court temporarily struck down much of the lower court’s stay on the president’s travel ban. This battle has overshadowed the president’s efforts to improve our vetting procedures. However, it is possible that empowering our officials to perform more comprehensive assessments of those who wish to enter our country should be a higher priority than barring entry from specific countries.
The new executive order instructs the State Department and Homeland Security to create a new plan for processing visa applications. In response, the State Department has ordered embassy and consular officials to hone in on the security screening of applicants for travel visas. The Hill states that authorities will implement a policy that requires “social media checks of people who have been in territory controlled by the Islamic State in Iraq and in Syria.”
Of course, there are concerns about the Trump administration’s recent executive order. Removing Obama’s mandate – which forces State Department officials to process visa applications within three weeks – will postpone the process for those who wish to travel to the United States. Patricia Rojas-Ungár, vice president of government relations at the U.S. Travel Association, believes that imposing further delays could have an adverse impact on travel to the United States. When speaking with The Hill, she said: “People have options for where they travel. Needless delays hurt the process and it hurts people’s interests.”
There are other concerns about the new executive order. It could also affect foreign students who are unable to obtain their visas in time to start classes. The order can also impact foreign workers who need to start work in the United States on certain dates.
President Trump’s stance on radical Islamic terrorism was a source of controversy since the 2016 campaign. The travel ban became the subject of a heated battle between the executive branch and the courts that has overshadowed the president’s commitment to enhancing the nation’s vetting policy.
The reality is that our approach to scrutinizing the immigrants we allow into the country is more critical than barring entry from individual countries. Europe is a prime example of what can happen when countries blindly open their doors to refugees and immigrants from nations that have problems with Islamic extremism. The issue isn’t the fact that European nations accept immigrants from Muslim countries; the issue is that they are not looking closely at the people to whom they allow entry.
A temporary ban may help us prevent terrorists from entering the country, but it is not the most sustainable solution. Stricter vetting procedures can ensure that we only accept immigrants who share our values. In this way, we can receive immigrants who benefit our society while denying entry to those who would do us harm. Removing Obama’s mandate is a step in the right direction. Stepping up our screening efforts will enable us to avoid Europe’s mistakes while ensuring that we welcome people who share our values. Hopefully, the Trump administration will put as much energy into reforming our vetting procedures as they have into the travel ban.