Trump administration officials are cracking down on issuing visas, and the results are hitting countries with nonwhite populations the hardest.
Trump officials are rejecting visas for people from primarily nonwhite countries at a much higher rate than the final year President Obama was in office, according to data released Tuesday by Politico.
Politico released a country-by-country breakdown of visa applications rejected by the State Department on the grounds that immigrants may be a "public charge." That term, which was introduced into law in the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act, refers to immigrants who may use public services.
Before Trump, it was interpreted to allow the State Department to deny a visa to someone who was likely to be primarily dependent on public assistance programs.
In January 2018, Trump officials issued new policies to "toughen the guidelines around what triggers a public charge determination," Politico reports. The results are having a significant impact on immigrants, depending on where they are from.
In the last fiscal year of Obama's administration, 1,033 visas were denied under this rule. Between Oct. 1, 2018, and the end of July 2019, the Trump administration used the expanded definition to deny 12,179 visas, an increase of more than 1,100%.
But the increased usage by the Trump administration has a disproportionate impact on countries with nonwhite populations. Individuals from Mexico saw a 76,000% increase in visa denials from the end of the Obama era to the most recent numbers under Trump. No Indian applicants were denied in Obama's final year, while the Trump administration rejected more than 1,200 in fiscal year 2018.
Individuals from Pakistan, Bangladesh, Haiti, and the Dominican Republic saw a sharp increase in these types of visa denials once Trump took over.
Meanwhile, individuals from France, Portugal, the Czech Republic, Georgia, and the Netherlands all saw a decrease when comparing 2016 levels of rejection to fiscal year 2019. Some majority-white countries did see a slight increase in the number of visas rejected based on public charge reasons, but not in the same proportion as nonwhite majority countries.
If German immigrants saw the same proportional increase of visa rejections as Mexico, more than 1,500 Germans applying for a visa would have been rejected under the public charge criteria in 2019. Instead, the number was three.
The impact of the Trump administration visa crackdown impacts some countries more than others, but it also impacts the immigrants the United States welcomes to the country.
"It is imposing a tougher standard for working-class people," Charles Wheeler, director of the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, told Politico.
The Trump administration is expected to further expand the public charge rule in the coming days or weeks, according to Politico. The expanded rule would bar legal immigrants from obtaining a green card if they use certain public benefits.
The new rule, once finalized, would be part of a broader anti-immigrant agenda of the Trump administration, which includes referring to immigrants coming across the southern border as an "infestation" and taking money meant for military families to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.
In the past, Trump expressed his desire for more immigrants from places like the majority-white Norway.
According to the data, the Trump administration has never used the public charge rule to deny a visa to an immigrant from Norway.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.