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US Announces Visa RestrictionsRestrictions previously were limited to owners and operators of charter companies that organize flights, ground transportation, and maritime vessels.

The U.S. State Department announced the expansion of its visa restriction regime to include executives of tourism-related companies involved in facilitating illegal immigration into the United States.

Specifically, the restrictions will apply to “executives of travel agencies and tour operators who provide travel services designed primarily for irregular migrants to the United States,” State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said in a press release on July 9.

The measure is part of the Biden administration’s campaign “to eliminate exploitative practices within and beyond the Western Hemisphere, in collaboration with partners in government and in the private sector,” according to the release.

In February, the department announced visa restrictions targeting owners and operators of charter companies that organize flights, ground transportation, and maritime vessels to facilitate illegal immigration into the United States.

The department implemented a similar visa restrictions policy in November 2023, targeting operators of flight services into Nicaragua to move people along in their journey across the U.S. southern border.

Airlines Warned About Irregular Migration From Nicaragua

The State Department, Homeland Security, and the Treasury issued a joint alert to airlines, air charter operators, travel agents, and service providers on May 15 warning that migrant smuggling and human trafficking networks exploit legitimate transportation services to facilitate irregular migration to the United States through Nicaragua.

“In particular, actions by the Nicaraguan government are of grave concern,” the alert reads.

“President Daniel Ortega and Vice President Rosario Murillo have put in place permissive-by-design migration policies that have introduced opportunities for migrant smuggling and trafficking networks to exploit migrants for economic gain and fuel dangerous, irregular travel towards the U.S. southwest border,” it added.

The alert also provides five suggestions for mitigating irregular migration, such as transmitting accurate passenger information 24 hours before a scheduled takeoff, as is required by government regulations.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection recorded 1.9 million encounters with people trying to enter the United States nationwide in fiscal year 2021, including individuals apprehended while attempting to sneak across the border or otherwise deemed inadmissible when they arrive at the border. Those numbers rose to 2.7 million in fiscal year 2022 and 3.2 million in fiscal year 2023.

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