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Miller and Trump Target Immigration and Visas for African Countries with New Visa Overstay Memorandum

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“This is Stephen Miller’s way of operationalizing his immigration strategy to ‘make America White again.’ – Douglas Rivlin

Yesterday, in a story about White House advisor Stephen Miller taking personal interest in certain deportation cases, Politico quoted an unnamed White House former staffer saying, “It’s not an overstatement to say Stephen Miller wakes up every morning thinking about illegal immigration and goes to sleep thinking about it as well.” Today, we got news of what some of Stephen Miller’s fever dreams contain with regard to legal visitors from African nations the President famously considers “shithole countries” with news that a White House memorandum is taking aim at certain nations – primarily in Africa – with double-digit rates of visa overstayers, those who stay in the United States beyond the allotted time of their visas.

The memorandum, first reported by the Wall Street Journal and made public on Monday, is the likely first step in a series of actions the administration could take later this year to further restrict the issuance of visas to these countries. David Leopold, Partner and Chair of Immigration for Ulmer & Berne and past president of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), told the Washington Post the memorandum “looks like a first step toward a future plan to ban visitors from certain African countries.”

Leopold, who is a legal advisor to America’s Voice, told the Post this action would be a gratuitous punishment for these nations because visa overstayers are already subject to harsh penalties under existing U.S. law. Individuals who overstay a visa already face a three-year or ten-year bar to admissions and other immigration benefits. Furthermore, U.S. consular officers at embassies around the world already have extraordinary latitude to deny visas to anyone for any reason, including the likelihood they will overstay.

Indeed, because so few visas are issued to African countries already, the administration’s actions are likely to target nations with relatively low numbers of actual overstayers. For example, the African nation of Sierra Leone would likely face restrictions under the proposed Miller/Trump plan because according to DHS data for FY2017, 360 business and tourist visitors from Sierra Leone are suspected of overstaying visas; whereas Great Britain would not face further restrictions despite the fact that according to the same data, 25,694 Brits overstayed their visas.

Douglas Rivlin, Director of Communication for America’s Voice said: “This is Stephen Miller’s way of operationalizing his immigration strategy to ‘make America White again’ by covering his tracks with data to disguise the underlying White nationalist objectives of the policy.  From the beginning, Miller has sought to institute policies, from the Muslim ban to restricting asylum and all but eliminating the refugee program, which would limit the ability of non-white visitors and immigrants to even apply to be here legally. Miller seems to have a litmus test for legal immigration: if your country has ever won a medal at the Winter Olympics, you can apply to come here and the rest of the world, just keep out.”