More than 37,000 visa applications were rejected by the U.S. State Department in 2018 due to President Trump’s travel ban, according to data released on Tuesday. Visa denials are up by at least 1,000 over the year before.
The final iteration of Executive Order 13769, which was upheld by the Supreme Court last year, barred citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries, as well as citizens from North Korea and Venezuela, from entering the United States. The State Department numbers provide a telling look at the impact of the ruling since the ban was enacted.
Of those total rejections, 15,384 applicants were denied immigrant visas granted to those who wished to seek permanent residence within the U.S.
An additional 21,645 applications were denied to those who sought non-immigrant visas, such as those who sought short-term visits to the U.S., usually for tourism or business.
The ban was widely criticized as unconstitutional and discriminatory toward Muslims, pointing to the fact the many of the countries listed were Muslim-majority countries. The ban was challenged multiple times in the lower court before the final decision was upheld.
Although the newest data set does not include a breakdown of denied applications by country, previous figures show that the number of visas issued to people from five of the Muslim-majority countries listed in the ban — Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen — dropped by 80 percent between 2016 to 2018.
In an email statement provided to HuffPost, a State Department spokesperson confirmed that the visa application denials were a result of full implementation of the president’s travel ban, adding that as of Jan. 31 of this year, 2,673 applicants were cleared for waivers that would allow them to circumvent the ban and potentially be granted entry. Families affected by the ban and immigration experts assert that waivers are notoriously difficult — some say impossible — to get and that the waiver process has left many in limbo.
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