Enhanced Review and Restriction on Entering the United States from Certain Middle Eastern States

Regarding both the current administration’s increased vetting requirements and restrictions for visa applicants, immigrants and refugees from specified middle eastern countries and those formerly applied by the Obama Administration:

Both the Obama and Trump administration posit their arguments on restricting visas from seven (now in Trump’s case six) designated primarily Muslim states based on two premises based on the belief that violent fundamentalist activities demonstrate dangerous levels of potential danger and that the subject states lack the resources and infrastructure necessary to properly vet visa applicants.  In both cases, the media reports and social media commentaries have little grasp of what is involved.  Indeed, the stress on where most successful terrorist come from totally ignores a critical aspect of the justification for increased levels of review, the capacity of the state involved to generate, organize and make available accurate and timely information for use in the vetting process.

In Colombia, which I assume is illustrative of normal practices, all vetting is normally done not by domestic authorities but by the consular section of the US Embassy and is concluded with a very brief personal interview by a designated group of trained vice consular officials who have approximately three minutes to determine if the applicant poses either a security risk or a risk of overstaying and becoming an undocumented immigrant.  The decision is entirely subjective based on instinctive perceptions from which there is no appeal.  These officials are usually considered very arrogant by the applicants and generate a good deal of counterproductive ill will, but given the time limits involved, there is little real ground for improvement, other than in manners.

Thus, while Colombia until recently had above average levels of political violence, its national identification card and notarial processes provide access to levels of information far more detailed and sophisticated (and anti-libertarian) than those of the United States itself.  That would appear to be the primary issue involved.

© Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Manizales, 2017; all rights reserved

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