Donald Trump's 'extreme vetting' plans could affect British and Australian tourists

By Geoff Earle

Visitors planning getaways to the U.S. might have to relinquish their cell phone contacts and passwords under new "extreme vetting" procedures. Photo/AP Photo/Evan Vucci
Visitors planning getaways to the U.S. might have to relinquish their cell phone contacts and passwords under new "extreme vetting" procedures. Photo/AP Photo/Evan Vucci

Visitors planning getaways to the U.S. might have to relinquish their cell phone contacts and passwords under new "extreme vetting" procedures being developed by the Trump administration.

The tightening could even be applied to longtime allies who are part of the State Department's Visa Waiver program, which provides expedited admissions without a visa to residents of a list of 38 nations including allies like Britain, Australia, and France, according to Daily Mail.

"If there is any doubt about a person's intentions coming to the United States, they should have to overcome-really and truly prove to our satisfaction-that they are coming for legitimate reasons," Gene Hamilton, senior counselor to Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly told the Wall Street Journal.

Among the tougher new measures: Visitors would have to answer questions about their ideology, hand over social media passwords and financial records, and their contacts, the paper reported.

President Trump set in motion the changes, which are still being developed, when he signed his immigration orders - although a federal judge has put a temporary stop to the controversial travel ban hitting six Muslim-majority countries.

Homeland officials said tougher procedures would be applied not just to prospective refugees but to visitors and other would-be immigrants.

The rules are certain to promote pushback not only from civil liberties and immigration rights groups but from travel and business associations that want to encourage tourism, a multibillion global industry.

When the U.S. has slapped higher immigration fees on other nations, they have frequently responded in-kind.

The Journal reported that the changes might even apply to the Visa Waiver Program, where nations agree to passport controls and other security measures in exchange for ease of movement.

Mobile phones sometimes get examined when visitors enter the U.S., but are not normally required during the application process.

The president's March order has a section titled: "Implementing Uniform Screening and Vetting Standards for All Immigration Programs."

It seeks "to identify individuals who seek to enter the United States on a fraudulent basis, who support terrorism, violent extremism, acts of violence toward any group or class of people within the United States, or who present a risk of causing harm subsequent to their entry."

It further seeks "development of a uniform baseline for screening and vetting standards and procedures, such as in-person interviews," new forms with questions aimed at identifying fraudulent answers, and other "appropriate means for ensuring the proper collection of all information necessary for a rigorous evaluation of all grounds of inadmissibility or grounds for the denial of other immigration benefits."

- Daily Mail

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