The United States is granting fewer visitor visas to people from around the world — not just Muslims — as President Donald Trump ratchets up his anti-immigration rhetoric.
By one measure, the U.S. granted 13 percent fewer visitor visas over the past 12 months when compared with fiscal year 2016, according to State Department data analyzed by POLITICO — a downward trend that appears to have accelerated in the past six months.
It’s unclear whether the drop is due to fewer people applying or more rejections of applications. The cause is likely some combination of both. The State Department furnishes data on how many visitor visas are granted per country, but releases only limited information on how many applications are received or refused.
But the decline comes as Trump is once again underscoring his hard-line views on immigration. Over the weekend, the president used Twitter to blame Democrats and the Mexican government for a “dangerous” flow of migrants over the border. The Republican president blasted America’s “dumb immigration laws” and threatened to abandon legislative talks on how to deal with undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children.
Evidence plainly indicates that Trump’s desire to restrict foreigners’ access to the U.S. has become a reality. Critics say that, by imposing new procedural and security hurdles, Trump and his aides are building a figurative wall to keep people out of America, even those who just want to come for a brief visit. The critics fear the drop in visas could damage industries, ranging from tourism to higher education.
“There’s been a concerted effort … to really slow down the wheels of immigration,” said Sirine Shebaya, a senior staff attorney with Muslim Advocates, a legal advocacy organization. “There are particular immigrant populations that this administration does not see as fully belonging here in the United States, and it includes Muslims, it includes immigrants of color [and] it includes people from Africa.”