Washington, D.C. — Today, the U.S. State Department issued a final rule to go into effect tomorrow that would allow consular officials to deny tourist or business visas to anyone they believe might be coming to the United States to give birth. The rule creates a rebuttable presumption that any person deemed by a government bureaucrat to potentially give birth during her time in the United States is coming to violate the terms of her entry. The rule also would add new hurdles for people seeking a visa to get medical treatment in the United States, even though this is permitted under law.
Tom Jawetz, vice president of Immigration Policy at the Center for American Progress, released the following statement:
Consular officials have broad authority when adjudicating visa applications, but this rule encourages such officials to use that authority to discriminate on the basis of gender and age by denying a visa based on the possibility that a person might give birth in the United States. By creating a ‘rebuttable presumption’ for people deemed by a single consular officer to potentially give birth while in the United States, the rule would almost certainly make it far harder for women, especially women of color, to come to the United States on tourist or business visas. The rule is only the latest effort by this White House to reshape immigration policy to harm women.
By erecting new barriers to those seeking urgent medical care in the United States, the rule will also put women’s lives at risk, which is why the administration should revoke this rule immediately to avoid causing irreparable harm. Embassy staff who see this rule being used to discriminate against women or to put women in danger have a responsibility to speak out; as a State Department official has already said, “People will die because of this.”
Shilpa Phadke, vice president of the Women’s Initiative at CAP, also released a statement:
The Trump administration has used the immigration system to target women through policies, including the increased detention of pregnant women and attacking asylum protections for victims of domestic violence. This rule is yet another attempt by the administration to control women’s bodies, driven by racist and misogynist assumptions about women born outside of the United States.
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