Trump quietly puts teeth into his ‘extreme vetting’ policy

Article publisher: 
The Hill
Article date: 
29 June 2017
Article category: 
National News
Article Body: 

... President Trump signed a little-noticed executive order last week that rescinded an Obama-era goal to speed up visa processing.

The brief directive strikes part of a 2012 order signed by former President Obama that instructed the State Department to “ensure that 80 percent of nonimmigrant visa applicants are interviewed within three weeks of receipt of application.”...
“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,” said White House spokesman Michael Short...

The State Department has instructed embassy and consular officials to toughen security screening of visa applicants by identifying “populations warranting increased scrutiny” and instituting mandatory social media checks of people who have been in territory controlled by the Islamic State in Iraq in Syria.

In a March diplomatic cable first reported by Reuters, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the number of visa interviews conducted by each consular official should be limited to a maximum of 120 per day. Tillerson acknowledged the new rule “may cause interview appointment backlogs to rise.”...

According to that data, the total count of nonimmigrant visas issued dropped from 907,166 in March to 735,004 in April...