By mid‐May, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) had used the president’s entry travel bans to deny admission to thousands of noncitizens, including parents of U.S. citizens, minor children of U.S. legal permanent residents, foreign investors, professional athletes, and multinational executives after they traveled to U.S. ports of entry. Rejecting investors who must own and expand U.S. businesses to qualify for their status and multinational executives who are overseeing foreign investments harms the U.S. recovery.
In a response to a Freedom of Information Act submitted in March, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) finally provided a list of those rejected at ports of entry under all COVID-19 related policies by country of citizenship as well as, in a few cases, by attempted entry status as of May 13. The main reason for the delay is that CBP stopped processing FOIAs related to COVID-19, passing them all through DHS headquarters for approval.
The data show that 3,854 citizens of 82 countries were barred entry to the United States by May 13 at a U.S. port of entry, meaning that they had already traveled to the United States. The most common nationality was Canada followed by Mexico largely because citizens of those countries can simply show up at a land port of entry along the northern or southern border. But most denials were of people who arrived at U.S. airports only to be denied.
CBP noted the category of attempted entry status in just 10 percent of the cases it identified. Table 1 shows that list. The most common was for individuals with border crossing visas followed by foreign students. The third most common category was for E-2 investors who come from a country where the U.S. has a treaty of commerce and navigation. E-2 investors are often businesses owners who have invested a substantial amount of capital in their business, creating jobs for Americans.
Other noteworthy denials include (at least) four L-1A multinational executives overseeing foreign investments in the United States from the United Kingdom and Spain. Discouraging investment in U.S. companies during a recession is simply bad economic policy. At least three Canadian parents of U.S. citizens were denied entry, and at least five P-1 professional athletes from Kenya and Mexico. Of course, since CBP only provided the category for 10 percent of all denials, the actual amounts could be 10 times the amounts listed in Table 1.
This only skims the surface of the number of people prevented from coming to the United States under the president’s bans since they mainly affect people applying for visas abroad. But all of these people denied by CBP were already on U.S. soil at an airport or land port of entry when they were denied.