The liberal newspaper in an analysis of State Department data said the most affected were Muslim-majority countries, but the number of immigrant visas granted to people from the Philippines, Mexico, China, India, Vietnam, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Bangladesh, Jamaica, Pakistan and Afghanistan has also declined.
The flow of legal immigrants from Europe, however, has increased slightly.
The analysis does not include temporary visas such as H-1B visas for skilled workers and H-2B visas for seasonal workers or student visas.
The Post report published last Tuesday comes on the heels of a public outcry against Trump’s efforts to discourage illegal immigration at the US-Mexico border, separating children from their parents awaiting proceedings for removal or improper entry.
Following the outcry, Trump signed an executive order last month that replaced the controversial measure with a policy of detaining entire families together with their children.
Some public officials and immigration experts have expressed concerns that the administration’s approach on immigrant visas targets certain nationalities, discriminating those from poorer and non-white countries.
Trump has consistently emphasized his intention to transform the US immigration system into one based on merit rather than family ties, which he has labeled as chain migration.
The Post noted that during president Barack Obama’s eight years in office, immigrant visas surged to 617,752 – the highest level in decades. The surge occurred almost entirely in the last two years of the Obama presidency.
It is unclear, The Post said, if part of the drop in immigrant visas reflected a declining interest in immigrating to the US or a tightening of the vetting process.
On another front of the immigration debate, democratic activists alleged that the government was holding up the naturalization applications of eligible permanent residents or green card holders to prevent them from voting in this year’s midterm elections.
Newly naturalized citizens generally vote for Democrats.
The conservative The Washington Times said in a report last Tuesday that there was no evidence of a slowdown in processing naturalization applications.
It estimated the pending cases at fewer than 730,000 as of the end of last year.
Jose Katigbak (The Philippine Star) – July 5, 2018 – 12:00am
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