Washington D.C., Jan 21, 2020 / 07:01 pm (CNA).- More travel bans and restrictions could be coming from the Trump administration, with up to seven countries targeted.
Citizens of Belarus, Burma, Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan, Nigeria, Sudan, and Tanzania could face more travel restrictions, as initially reported by the news site Politico. The restrictions could be announced Jan. 27, the third anniversary of the administration’s first travel bans.
The restrictions under consideration are not finalized and might not necessarily be a complete ban, but rather could apply only to certain government officials or certain types of visas, like business or visitor visas.
Some countries the Trump administration is considering for new travel restrictions have had good relations with the U.S. or have been the subjects of U.S. efforts to improve relations, Politico reports.
The administration has justified travel restrictions as an anti-terrorism measure, saying the travelers are not adequately vetted.
The original executive order was issued Jan. 27, 2017, prompting hundreds of demonstrators to gather at airports. The first order denied visas to citizens of seven predominantly Muslim countries.
The order was modified and went through several court challenges. In its current form it restricts entry of some citizens of Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Yemen, Venezuela, and North Korea. Chad was on the original list, but was removed.
Lawyers, advocates for Muslim immigrants, and other critics said the administration’s travel ban still constituted a “Muslim ban” since most of the countries under the ban are Muslim-majority.
The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the travel ban in June 2018, ruling that President Donald Trump was acting within the limits of his authority when he enacted the travel ban on nationals from seven countries.
At the time of the ruling, leaders of the U.S. bishops’ migration committee and religious freedom committee said the travel ban “targets Muslims for exclusion, which goes against our country's core principle of neutrality when it comes to people of faith.” The Supreme Court “failed to take into account the clear and unlawful targeting of a specific religious group by the government,” the bishops said.
Most possible additions to the list do not have travel restrictions. The Wall Street Journal said people from Eritrea, Nigeria, and Sudan on business or visitor visas appeared much more likely to overstay their permits.
This week White House spokesman Hogan Gidley did not confirm to Politico any details about expanded ban or travel restrictions, but said the original order “has been profoundly successful in protecting our country and raising the security baseline around the world.”
“While there are no new announcements at this time, common sense and national security both dictate that if a country wants to fully participate in U.S. immigration programs, they should also comply with all security and counter-terrorism measures — because we do not want to import terrorism or any other national security threat into the United States,” Gidley said.
Trump first proposed a ban on Muslims entering the U.S. after a string of terrorist attacks, including a December 2015 shooting in San Bernardino, California that left 14 dead and 22 injured. The shooters were a married couple who had pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group shortly before the attack. One was a U.S. citizen and the other was a Pakistani national who moved to the U.S. on a fiancée visa.
His comments drew condemnation and concern from many who worried explicitly targeting migrants based on religion was wrong in itself and would enable U.S. laws and policies targeting other religious groups.