The Trump administration is reportedly considering restricting travel from countries whose citizens have a high rate of overstaying their visas while in the United States.
Here's what we know
This potential move was first reported by the Wall Street Journal, and later confirmed by Politico, which spoke to an official from the Department of Homeland Security. Politico's source said that a final decision and announcement could come as soon as this week.
According to a report from the Department of Homeland Security, 701,900 non-immigrants from other countries overstayed their visas in the United States during fiscal year 2017.
The countries with the highest overstay rates include several in Africa, namely Angola (10.06 percent), Burkina Faso (14.51 percent), Burundi (13.09 percent), Chad (24.39 percent), Djibouti (42.30 percent), Eritrea (26.54 percent), the Gambia (12.36 percent), Liberia (20.74 percent), Sierra Leone (12.66 percent), South Sudan (14.01 percent), and Sudan (13.70 percent), as well as some non-African countries including Bhutan (14.21 percent), Laos (11.28 percent), and the Solomon Islands (30.12 percent). Politico suggested that these countries could be targeted for immigration restrictions because of President Donald Trump's reported description of African nations as "s**thole countries."
Notably, some of these countries have a high rate, but a comparatively low number of total visa holders entering the United States. For example at 30.12 percent the Solomon Islands (which are near Papua New Guinea) have one of the highest rates of people overstaying their visas, but that percentage represents only 103 people.
A White House spokesman told the Wall Street Journal that the administration was prioritizing visa overstays. During the 2016 campaign, Trump had promised to address this issue, saying that if the U.S. didn't "enforce visa expiration dates, then we have an open border — it's as simple as that."
Politico, citing a 2006 Pew Research Center study, noted that as many as 45 percent of all illegal immigrants in the United States are believed to have entered legally on a visa and then never left, a number ranging from 4.5 million to 6 million.