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US expands visa restrictions on transportation operators over migration

Border wall between United States and Mexico

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States on Wednesday expanded visa restrictions for transportation operators "facilitating irregular migration", as the Biden administration aims to tackle a record number of migrants illegally crossing the southern U.S. border.

The restrictions will now also target "owners, executives, and senior officials of charter flight, ground, and maritime transportation companies providing transportation services designed for use primarily by persons intending to migrate irregularly to the United States," the U.S. State Department said in a statement.

In November, the department announced visa restrictions targeting individuals operating charter flights into Nicaragua for migrants heading towards the U.S.-Mexico border.

The increase in migrants seeking to cross the U.S. border from Mexico has become a top issue as U.S. President Joe Biden seeks reelection, with former President Donald Trump making it a major focus of his campaign to challenge Biden.

(Reporting by Susan Heavey; Editing by Katharine Jackson and Chizu Nomiyama)