by Mark Albert
WASHINGTON (TVR) – The Trump administration is demanding new information on travelers bound for the United States and threatening countries with sanctions within 50 days if they don’t cooperate with the increased scrutiny, according to an internal cable obtained by the Reuters news agency.
The lengthy State Department cable, dated Wednesday and posted online by Reuters, states the orders come after consultation between diplomats, the Department of Homeland Security, and the Director of National Intelligence.
It outlines “what information is needed from every country in order to sufficiently vet the nationals of that country in order to obtain a visa, admission at a port of entry, or other immigration benefit,” the cable’s summary reads.
It also directs American ambassadors and embassy staffs to “engage more intensively” with countries the U.S. has deemed to be “inadequate in their information sharing” in order to get them to comply.
The directive could impact not just tourist travel, but business travel, as well.
It comes just as the controversial electronics ban is about to be phased out, with only one airline and airport still remaining on the list that prohibits electronics larger than a smartphone in the cabin of flights into the U.S.
Scrutiny of Biographic, Biometric Data
The increased U.S. scrutiny extends to a traveler’s biographic and biometric data, the cable details.
DHS seeks more information on a visitor’s criminal background in their home country, as well as any suspected ties to terrorism, and the data collection is “designed to mitigate risk” to the United States homeland, the cable explains.
“This is the first time that the U.S. Government is setting standards for the information that is required from all countries specifically in support of immigration and traveler vetting,” a portion of the cable reads.
“The U.S. government’s national security screening and vetting procedures for visitors are constantly reviewed and refined to improve security and more effectively identify individuals who could pose a threat to the United States,” Reuters quoted an anonymous State Department official as saying.
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Last month, DHS Secretary John Kelly announced new security measures for all U.S.-bound flights worldwide, addressing the current threat environment.
“We cannot play international whack-a-mole with each new threat,” Kelly said in his prepared remarks.
“Instead, we must put in place new measures across the board to keep the traveling public safe and make it harder for terrorists to succeed.”
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