Chinese Communist Party members have long faced U.S. immigration hurdles

Chinese Communist Party members and their families may face new restrictions on traveling to the U.S. that would be a dramatic expansion of current limits.

Why it matters: U.S. law, on paper at least, has long prohibited CCP members from immigrating, but the proposed policy could gut people-to-people ties between the two countries and mark a near-break in diplomatic relations.

Driving the news: The Trump administration is considering banning CCP members and their families from entering the United States, according to a New York Times report.

  • It would invoke the same provision in the Immigration and Nationality Act as President Trump’s 2017 travel ban on people from several Muslim-majority countries.
  • The ban could apply to as many as 270 million Chinese people, according to an administration estimate.

But such a broad measure is raft with problems.

  • It doesn’t take into account the fact that party membership in a one-party state is a structural part of life for many people that is often necessary to have a successful career. It’s also a primary way to participate in community organizing.
  • Membership can even provide some political protection for people who want to push the boundaries. Some well-known critics of CCP policies, such as now-jailed Uighur scholar Ilham Tohti, have been party members.
  • Party membership usually isn’t publicly disclosed, especially among the rank and file, making it difficult for U.S. consular and border officials to check the veracity of some applications.
  • Yes, but: Party membership would likely be identifiable in enough situations to have a major deterrent effect on party members attempting to visit the U.S.

What they’re saying: Analysts have widely criticized the proposal as discriminatory, needlessly broad and harmful.

  • Such a move would more or less augur “an end of the [U.S.-China] bilateral relationship,” Richard McGregor, a senior fellow at the Lowy Institute in Sydney, told the South China Morning Post.

By Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian for AXIOS
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