Trump's 'Extreme Vetting' Is Reaching Unseen Levels

New proposals could keep tourists away out of fear of having their privacy violated by U.S. officials — but the Trump administration doesn't seem too bothered.

President Donald Trump was never shy about his anti-immigrants stance. But what many may not have realized is that he was also going to implement policies that could hurt the United States' tourism industry in a way we have never dreamed of — until now.

According to The Wall Street Journal, Trump's “extreme vetting” of foreigners traveling into the country may soon include forcing tourists to disclose contacts on their mobile phones, allowing officials to have access to foreigners' social media passwords and financial records, and subjecting travelers to questions regarding their ideological preferences.

As the White House begins the process of reviewing vetting procedures that are seen by many as intrusive and unnecessary, information regarding countries impacted may surprise you. Travelers coming from U.S. allies, such as the United Kingdom, France, Australia, and Japan, are also being targeted.

The Trump administration has justified this measure by claiming that it continues to fight terrorism and that this effort requires tougher measures.

Gene Hamilton, a senior counselor to Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, says that “[i]f 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.”

But to civil libertarians who are claiming that the proposed changes may pose challenges if other countries choose to impose similar restrictions, this explanation isn't good enough. After all, the plan may include asking applicants to turn over their cell phones for a review of contacts and other personal information.

It may also force potential travelers to pass an “ideological test” before being allowed entry.

The proposal stems from the president's executive order banning travelers from six majority-Muslim countries.

While a Hawaii federal judge put a hold on the ban, it did not keep the administration from continuing with the preparation of other vetting procedures.

At least 40 civil liberties groups have stepped forward, telling the Trump administration that these changes are “a direct assault on fundamental rights.”

Civil rights aside, one of the most obvious consequences of the "extreme vetting process" may be that the tourism industry in America will suffer greatly as a result.

If tourists are afraid or simply overwhelmed by America's requests, they will just stop traveling to the country altogether, and we will lose millions of dollars each year as a result. (Tourism in the United States represented 2.6 percent of gross domestic product in 2015.)

Is that the “America first” policy Trump was so ready to implement? And is that what his supporters voted for? Hard to believe.

Banner and thumbnail credit: Reuters

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