White House Considers Cracking Down on Home Countries of Migrants Who Overstay Their Visas

President Donald Trump talks to reporters as he departs from the White House in Washington, D.C., April 10, 2019. (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)

The White House is considering imposing travel restrictions on visa-seekers from countries whose nationals tend to overstay their short-term visas.

The potential restrictions, which were first reported by the Wall Street Journal, would make it more difficult for nationals from countries such as Nigeria, Chad, Eritrea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone to obtain visas, since migrants from those countries overstay their visas at relatively high rates.

The Trump administration wants “to reduce overstay rates for visas and the visa waiver program — and it’s well known that the administration is working to ensure faithful implementation of immigration welfare rules to protect American taxpayers,” White House spokesman Hogan Gidley told the Journal.

In an effort to capitalize on the newfound flexibility afforded by the departure of Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen and several of her top lieutenants, the White House is also considering a number of other rule changes that would make it more difficult to obtain student and investor visas, as well as visas for spouses of highly skilled H-1B-visa holders. Many of the rule changes under consideration would almost certainly be met with legal challenges.

The potential rule changes come as the president and his top immigration adviser, Stephen Miller, have become increasingly frustrated with lawmakers’ refusal to address the flaws in the immigration system amid an unprecedented influx of asylum seekers at the Southern border in recent months.

In response, Miller and his restrictionist allies in the administration have called on Congress to overturn the Flores consent decree, which forces the administration to release children into the country within twenty days of their arrival at the border, although it remains unclear if that is legally possible. They have also urged lawmakers to modify the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act, which they claim incentivizes migrants to travel to the border with minors.

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