The Washington Post’s Matt Zapotosky reports on the Trump administration’s plans to expand the number of visas available for travelers who come to the United States for tourism.
(Sarah Parnass/The Washington Post) The Washington, D.C., bureau of The Washington D. C. bureau of WASHINGTON — An official from the Department of Homeland Security said Wednesday that the agency would begin issuing visas for “high-value individuals” — the same visa categories that have been the target of the Trump Administration’s immigration crackdowns.
The official, speaking on condition of anonymity because the decision had not been made public, told reporters that DHS would start issuing visas “in the coming weeks.”
He added that the administration would not wait for Congress to pass legislation before issuing visas, saying, “We will make this decision before we have to do that.”
A DHS spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
In a statement Wednesday, the administration said it was “committed to expediting the issuance of visas for high-value travelers who are eligible to enter the United State to increase the number and quality of visa opportunities for American workers and businesses.”
The official’s comments came just days after President Donald Trump signed an executive order that expands the number in the current program.
Under the new policy, the Department has also authorized an increase in the number, length and maximum duration of visas issued for “visas for high value individuals” for the next fiscal year.
It also requires that DHS issue visas to “high value individuals who are able to demonstrate a significant interest in a particular visa class” — a change that will likely add hundreds of thousands of visas to the current backlog.
The move was announced on Jan. 10 and was finalized Jan. 13.
But while the policy itself was intended to increase visas for certain high-risk groups, the Trump team was not entirely happy with the direction of the program.
“It was clear from the start that the priority was to increase numbers and not increase quality,” an official with knowledge of the immigration process told Politico.
The policy change “created a situation where we were not in the position to meet the needs of the Department,” the official added.
Trump announced in January that the U.S. would increase its visas for travelers from countries affected by the coronavirus pandemic, saying he would do so as soon as possible.
The president had been seeking a five-year program, but had to wait until he could get approval from Congress before rolling out the changes.
At the time, he said that the program would “enhance border security,” “provide opportunities for entrepreneurs to compete” and “make America more competitive” — all of which he said would help the country.
Trump also called the increase in visas “a great win for American business.”
“The fact that this visa program has been extended, and I think we will get it back up, will have tremendous economic impact for our country,” Trump said during a Jan. 14 press conference.
But the executive order Trump signed Wednesday also includes an immigration “reform” bill, which is expected to be signed into law by Trump.
The bill includes a number of measures that will restrict the ability of visa holders from certain countries to enter or remain in the United Kingdom, Mexico and the United Arab Emirates.
It would also prevent U.K. citizens from entering or remaining in Iran, Libya, Syria, Sudan and Yemen, as well as Somalia, Eritrea, Sudan, Eritrean and Yemen.
“This bill is a good first step in bringing this bill to the House and Senate for consideration,” Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.), who co-authored the bill, told The Washington Examiner.
But Trump has not yet indicated whether he will sign the legislation.
Gallega said the bill is designed to provide a way for the U:S.
government to enforce existing immigration laws.
“I think it will do a lot of good, because I think it would open up a whole host of opportunities for people coming to the U,” Gallegosaid.
“We are going to do this for a whole bunch of different reasons.
It’s going to give us more leverage to enforce immigration laws, to make sure people don’t come into the country under false pretenses, to do whatever we can to make certain that people don:t sneak in.”
The House bill has received bipartisan support, including from both Democrats and Republicans, but the legislation has been blocked by the Senate.
“The Senate has already passed the bill,” Galglego told The Examiner.
“If the House passes it, we will be in the same place.
I’m confident that it will be signed by the president.”
Trump has said he wants to see the United Nations and other global organizations pass more rules on the issue.
“At some point, it’s going, ‘OK, well, you’re going to have to make some rules,'” Trump told a reporter last