State Dept. Cable Calls for U.S. Embassies To Increase Scrutiny of Certain Visa Applicants
Reuters recently published a March 17, 2017, cable marked “sensitive” from Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on screening and vetting of visa applicants. The cable orders U.S. embassies to identify “applicant populations warranting increased scrutiny” and toughen their screening. The cable also orders a “mandatory social media review” for applicants who have ever been present in Islamic State-controlled territory. Also, notwithstanding the fact that Iraqis are exempt from the travel ban order (which is temporarily suspended by court order), the cable states that President Donald Trump “contemplate[s] additional screening for Iraqi nationals in addition to the robust vetting already in place.” According to Reuters, two former U.S. officials said the effort would constitute a broad, labor-intensive expansion of screening procedures.
Among other things, the cable states that “all visa decisions are national security decisions,” and notes that the measures being taken now are “preliminary” and that “[a]dditional screening measures will be introduced.”