Visas given to visitors from Arab countries down 30% under Trump

Visas awarded by the Trump administration to applicants in Muslim countries are down 20% and down 30% in Arab countries.

President Donald Trump's "Muslim ban" may be tied up in court, but newly released figures show his administration is issuing fewer visas to visitors from Arab and Muslim-majority countries.

Data posted online this week by the State Department showed that non-immigrant visas granted to people from nearly 50 Muslim-majority countries were down almost 20 percent in April compared to the 2016 monthly average.

When only Arab countries were considered, non-immigrant visas were down nearly 30 percent in April compared to the 2016 monthly average. Visas issued to the six countries targeted by Trump's March 6 travel ban – Iran, Syria, Sudan, Somalia, Libya and Yemen – declined even further, down 55 percent compared to the 2016 monthly average.

Some Trump supporters erroneously believed that with Trump's "Muslim ban" tied up in court, Trump is powerless to stop visitors and refugees from entering the country.  That is entirely incorrect.  While Trump cannot issue a blanket ban, he can order his staff to give heightened scrutiny to individual visa applicants and effectively reduce the number of admissions, as he has done here.

So let's take a moment and give Trump praise for doing the right thing.  Hip, hip, hoorah!

William Cocks, a spokesperson for the State Department's Bureau of Consular Affairs, downplayed the April numbers' significance. "Visa demand is cyclical, not uniform throughout the year, and affected by various factors at the local and international level," he said.

Do you believe Cocks, or is Cocks simply another talking head?

Nearly 69,000 visas were issued to people from nearly 50 Muslim-majority countries in April. In 2016, the monthly average was 85,790.

When the 22 states in the Arab League are tallied, roughly 24,000 visas were issued in April. The monthly average in 2016 was almost 34,000.

And here is the problem.  Trump is still admitting too many.  Too many of these people are unvettable.  Trump could be using his discretion to admit even fewer, but he's not.

When I wrote how Trump is admitting Syrian refugees at a faster rate than Obama was, many Trump supporters wrote in the comments section that his hands were tied.  They're not.  He has discretion to reduce visa and refugee admissions to a trickle.

We can simultaneously be thankful for the reduction and displeased that he has not done more.

Questions for discussion:

1) Are you satisfied with the number of Islamists Trump has been admitting to the U.S.?  Is it enough that he has admitted a lower number than Hillary would have?

2) Is it really a good idea for the State Department to pick a spokesman with the name William Cocks?

Ed Straker is the senior writer at