Skift Take

As strange as it is that a tweet from a Rabbi would help expose the inner workings of a Presidential administration, it's even stranger that a plan to thoroughly disrupt international travel to the U.S. could be in the works.

The first three months of the Trump Administration have been anything but business as usual when it comes to travel and tourism. Now, thanks to a tweet, we have some insight into the totality of the government’s plans regarding visas for foreign visitors.

A May 2 tweet from Rabbi Shmuley Boteach’s visit with Trump advisor Steve Bannon conspicuously displays a whiteboard with a list of travel-related policy ideas. Included in the list and checked off are many policy decisions that have already taken place in some way, like suspending the Syrian Refugee program, and others that could be in the works.

One item should catch the eye of anyone with a stake in the travel industry: “Sunset our visa laws so that Congress is forced to revise and revisit them.”

In other words, if this item on the whiteboard gets turned into an action plan, then the Trump administration could be planning to create a situation through an executive order where foreign visitors can’t obtain or renew their visas, and it might force Congress to pass new laws that the White House hopes are more restrictive.

This would likely cause chaos for foreign workers in the U.S., who wouldn’t be able to renew their visas, and deny international travelers access to the U.S. if the restrictions are far-reaching.

Perhaps there is no such action plan or maybe it’s just Bannon’s and would get shot down by others in the warring camps within the White House. But the sunsetting visas idea’s placement on the whiteboard certainly highlights the thinking of influential policy-makers in the Trump administration.

Other items mentioned on the whiteboard include implementing a biometric entry/exit visa system, ostensibly to replace the current system with a more secure version, and a push to pass the Davis-Oliver Act, which would increase law enforcement regarding immigrants and visitors across the country.

This bill would give the Department of Homeland Security greater powers to detain illegal immigrants and remove the ability of the President to limit enforcement efforts.

So far, the Trump Administration has not been able to fully implement its immigration and travel policies. Its initial travel ban is in a holding pattern, and will likely stay that way, while the second version will be discussed in court this month. There have also been some successes, particularly the imposition of an electronic bans on direct flights from the Middle East and Africa and a cutback on Trusted Traveler Program eligibility for Muslim travelers.


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Tags: politics, tourism, trump, visas

Photo credit: Could the U.S. government be planning to disrupt how visas are issued in the near future? President Donald Trump speaks at a rally Wednesday, March 15, 2017, in Nashville, Tennessee. 224802 / 224802

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