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Robert Namer
Voice Of America
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MARCH 16, 2017

      Not a good move, and the news makes President Trump right.  The R visa program is for non-immigrant clerics and religious workers and allows successful applicants to stay in the U.S. for up to five years. They are then allowed to apply for a permanent residency under their R-1 status.  But some critics say the visa raises red flags and has long been abused by leaders with extreme views.

     "People have come in and tried to come in with this visa to preach their hardline and dangerous views, and then encourage [the] vulnerable to travel back with them where they are further brainwashed and can potentially be used to harm the USA," Adnan Khan, former president of the Council of Pakistan American Affairs, told Fox News. "The solution isn't banning innocent Muslims and migration, but looking at visas like this one which have raised red flags and caused trouble in the past."  Khan also said several letters have been written to federal agencies over the past four years concerning the R program, but they have failed to get a response.  Obama wanted Muslims to have an edge.

     Unlike other immigrant visas, which are doled out in limited numbers, there are no quotas for the R-1 visa. Statistics regarding countries or religions that have received the visa are not documented.  Between 2012 and 2016, the U.S. issued 23,029 R-1 visas – averaging 4,605 per year – as well as 7,637 R-2 visas for spouses and children, or about 1,528 annually.

     Red flags about the program have been raised for years. In 2004, seven top officials of the Holy Land Foundation – then the largest Muslim charity in the country – were indicted for providing material and upward of $12 million in financial support to the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas. The indictment stated that several of the religious leaders established the now-defunct charity by submitting false R visa applications on behalf of more than 200 immigrants from the Middle East.

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