Wall Street Journal
By Laura Meckler
June 14, 2017
WASHINGTON—President Donald Trump’s order halting travel to the U.S. by people from six countries remains on hold by the courts, but the number of admissions from these nations has dramatically fallen nonetheless.
Compared with a year earlier, the number of people admitted from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen was down by about half year-over-year, according to data released Wednesday by the Department of Homeland Security for the months of March and April.
Data from the State Department on number of visas issued points to similar drops from these six countries as well. But it was unclear whether the decline was primarily due to fewer people seeking to travel to the U.S. or the administration rejecting more applications.
A State Department spokesman said the agency wouldn’t release data about visa application rejections for recent months.
The Homeland Security data show a drop in admissions for all six countries in both March and April, the latest months available. The biggest drop was from Somalia, with the number of people being admitted to the U.S. in those two months falling by more than two-thirds, to 655 from 2,233 a year earlier.
Drops from Libya were the smallest, but off a very low base. Admissions in March and April fell 26% to 195, down from 265 a year earlier.
Of the six targeted countries, the U.S. admitted the greatest number of people from Iran, in both 2016 and 2017.
Two appellate courts have halted implementation of Mr. Trump’s order, which aimed to temporarily suspend travel to the U.S. by people from these six Muslim-majority nations, citing terrorism concerns. The government has asked the Supreme Court to intervene in the cases and the justices are expected to act on the request this month.
The initial Trump travel order was announced in January, then a revised order was issued in March.
The Department of Homeland Security said Wednesday that there were many reasons why somebody might be denied admission to the U.S. and that it is the agency’s responsibility to protect Americans.
“Our dual mission is to facilitate travel in the United States while we secure our borders, our people and our visitors from those that would do us harm like terrorists and terrorist weapons, criminals, and contraband,” it said.
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