SHAFAQNA – The US State Department is on the verge of implementing new extreme vetting guidelines against Muslim travelers as President Trump continues his assault on the Muslim community.
Trump has made discrimination a centerpiece of his campaign while running for the presidency. He has called for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States” during the election; an outrageous proclamation that drew condemnation from lawmakers of all political stripes — citing that such blatant discrimination based on one’s religion was not only unconstitutional, but stood against our most basic and cherished values as a nation of immigrants.
However, despite those concerns, just one week after being sworn into office, Trump signed a cruel executive order blocking Syrian refugees from entering the U.S., refusing entry to all refugees from resettlement for 120 days and prohibiting nationals of seven predominantly Muslim countries from entering the country for 90 days. HRC condemned the order, which vilified the Muslim community and created a threat to countless refugees — including thousands of LGBTQ refugees fleeing violence and persecution.
After multiple federal judges blocked his travel ban, Trump signed a new version, just as bad as the first. HRC immediately condemned Trump’s second ban.
Yet, on the same day that the Muslim Ban 2.0 was announced, the White House issued a memorandum directing the State Department to create “enhanced vetting procedures.” Now that Trump’s two illegal Muslim Bans have been soundly rejected by the courts, he is desperately trying a new way to implement his agenda by issuing new “extreme vetting” requirements in visa applications, which were published in the Federal Register earlier this month.
The State Department, which overseas applicants for U.S. visas, has proposed new procedures and guidance aimed at certain applicants it considers a “threat to national security.” While it does not explicitly mention Muslims or specific countries, it is not hard to imagine who President Trump would label a “threat to national security.” Here are just some of the new or modified language, if the proposal is adopted.
- Visa applicants will have to provide travel history including source of funding for travel, address history, and employment history over the last 15 years — the State Department previously required just five years of history, and even a top secret U.S. security clearance only requires 10 years of information.
- Providing their social media handles, email addresses and phone numbers used over the last five years — it’s unknown why the Trump administration would want this information, but without more clarity this provision should be extremely concerning for those who use social media.
Muslims and other marginalized groups are under siege by Trump. We will not back down from this White House. We will raise up, resist and fight against bigotry and discrimination in all forms for as long as it takes. These new procedures are currently open to public comment until May 18.