The restrictions on international journalists proposed by the government of the United States would limit the international press to report news and cover events in the US, according to the President of the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ), Matthew Hall.
SPJ’s President has also emphasized that the restrictions could seriously affect the operations of the United States media aboard, VisaGuide.World reports.
The latest proposals of the Department of Homeland Security have been vehemently denied by SPJ, which asserts that the move will limit the number of international journalists in the United States and will intimidate reporters who are currently working in the country.
“Given the backlog in the US States Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS) already for other routine extensions – some of which have taken up to six months – this new rule puts an undue burden on the already overworked USCIS employees and puts foreign journalists in a regular state of uncertainty when it comes to visa status renewals,” the Society of Professional Journalists announced.
As a result, organizations like the North American Broadcasters Association and the European Broadcasting Union together with other media outlets like Reuters AFP and the Associated Press have addressed a joint letter to the US government. In the letter, these organizations highlight that the proposal represents a risk for freedom of speech, which is guaranteed by the First Amendment of the US Constitution and also risks damaging the US reputation globally.
The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press together with 37 media organizations have also urged the Department of Homeland Security to abolish or revise its plans to restrict visas for international journalists who currently remain in the United States for labour purposes.
Last month’s proposal of the Department of Homeland and Security regarding the limiting of the duration of visas issued to international journalists in the US to 240 days, with a maximum extension of 240 days, has caused polemics within the US and worldwide.
“The proposed changes by the DHS would restrict the ability of independent foreign news organizations from reporting news within the US and could lead to reprisals affecting US journalists in other countries. Both outcomes are unacceptable,” President of the SPJ Matthew Hall pointed out.
The Russian Embassy in the United States also criticized the proposed restrictions for international journalists, adding that “I” visa issuance procedures complicate the professional duties of international journalists in the US, especially the limitation of the period of stay for international media employees.
Currently, international journalists are eligible to stay in the United States as long as they need to perform their duties.
Last month, authorities in China announced that they had planned to introduce new visa restrictions for international journalists who work for the United States media organizations in China.
Journalists of the United States who worked in China and sought to renew their press credentials (which usually are valid for a year), received a letter that noted that their applications were being processed, instead of receiving a new press card.
Back in May, Washington announced that it would limit the duration of stay for a large number of China’s journalists who are working in the United States, to 90 days.