Rea­son­able ques­tions for vis­i­tors

Visa ap­pli­cants will soon be asked more pen­e­trat­ing ques­tions about their past

The Washington Times Daily - - EDITORIAL -

The White House has in­tro­duced a new ques­tion­naire for visa ap­pli­cants that asks for more de­tailed in­for­ma­tion about who they are. Ap­pli­cants for per­mis­sion to en­ter the United States are to be asked to pro­vide con­sular of­fi­cials with a list of all the names they’ve used on so­cial me­dia for the past five years. This is a rea­son­able re­quest for in­for­ma­tion that would give the U.S. gov­ern­ment ways to check for ties to ter­ror­ist or­ga­ni­za­tions and clues to be­hav­ior that in­di­cates risk to Amer­ica.

The ques­tion­naire asks ap­pli­cants for the num­bers of previous pass­ports, email ad­dresses, tele­phone num­bers, ad­dresses, places of em­ploy­ment and places of travel for the past 15 years. This will be re­garded by some prospec­tive vis­i­tors as a pain in the neck. But even if it is, it’s far less painful than another kind of pain in the neck that is all too fa­mil­iar to any­one who reads the news­pa­pers or watches the tele­vi­sion news. The United States, like all other na­tions, have a right to know who wants to be a vis­i­tor. Not only that, but an­swer­ing the new ques­tions is vol­un­tary — no one has to an­swer. Con­sular of­fi­cers may won­der why.

Ques­tions like these are bur­den­some and time-con­sum­ing, and would prob­a­bly an­noy those who want to come to the United States for study and re­search. But stu­dents and re­searchers should un­der­stand best that an­swer­ing ques­tions is what study and re­search is all about. They can con­sider the ques­tion­naire prac­tice for what­ever projects they have in mind. Im­mi­gra­tion lawyers are al­ready gear­ing for a fight, hint­ing at the di­rec­tion their le­gal ob­jec­tions will take, ob­ject­ing that their clients should hardly be ex­pected to re­mem­ber their full 15-year his­to­ries, that those who make mis­takes might see Amer­ica’s doors un­fairly shut.

“The United States has one of the most strin­gent visa ap­pli­ca­tion pro­cesses in the world,” com­plains Babak Youse­fzadeh, a San Fran­cisco lawyer and pres­i­dent of the Ira­nian Amer­i­can Bar As­so­ci­a­tion, who takes note of the “ar­bi­trary power” that con­sular of­fi­cials will now have over visa ap­pli­cants. “The need for tight­en­ing the ap­pli­ca­tion process fur­ther is re­ally un­known and un­clear.”

Would that such were so. Don­ald Trump was elected pres­i­dent of the United States on his vow to, among other things, tighten na­tional bor­ders and bol­ster na­tional se­cu­rity. The left, at ev­ery step, has stymied him, ob­ject­ing all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court to his ex­ec­u­tive or­ders to bar tem­po­rar­ily those from places where ter­ror­ism is the growth in­dus­try.

Amer­ica has al­ways put out the wel­come mat for vis­i­tors, and will con­tinue to do so. Vis­i­tors of good will honor us by com­ing here. But the United States, like all na­tions, has the right — and duty — to make sure that vis­i­tors and prospec­tive im­mi­grants with evil in­tent, and sad to say there are some, stay away, far away. Ter­ror­ism is an in­con­ve­nience to ev­ery­one, and the gov­ern­ment has a duty to make sure that in­con­ve­nience does not be­come tragedy.

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