Travel Ban Expanded by Six Countries
By Heather Ham-Warren | FAIR Take | February 2020
Last week, the Trump administration announced the decision to expand the travel ban to six more countries after a year-long review by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) evaluating the safety performance and protocols of approximately 200 countries.
Early in his presidency, President Donald Trump signed Executive Order 13769, titled “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States,” which imposed a ban on entry by individuals from countries that are widely considered to be hotbeds for terrorism. Specifically, this ban applied to the following countries: Iraq, Iran, Syria, Libya, Somalia, Yemen, and Sudan. Due to various court rulings, this Executive Order was eventually superseded by Executive Order 13780. In June 2018, the United States Supreme Court announced its 5-4 decision in Trump v. Hawaii to uphold the restrictions set in place by the administration.
Pursuant to the White House’s order and the Court’s ruling, the Secretary of DHS—in consultation with both the Secretary of State and the Director of National Intelligence— developed an assessment model using three categories of criteria to evaluate national security and public-safety threats of other countries including: whether a foreign government engages in reliable identity-management practices and shares relevant information; whether a foreign government shares national security and public-safety information; and whether a country otherwise poses a national security or public-safety risk.
Following an assessment period, the six countries being added to the list are Burma, Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan, Nigeria, Tanzania, and Sudan. For a few of the countries—Burma, Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan, and Nigeria—the restrictions are only applicable to immigrant visas. For Sudan and Tanzania, the restrictions are being placed on diversity visas, which come from the diversity lottery program that grants visas to prospective immigrants randomly each year.
Acting DHS Secretary Chad Wolf said that the six countries may eventually be removed if they meet certain requirements. “These countries for the most part want to be helpful, want to do the right thing, have relationships with the U.S. and are in some cases improving relations, but for a variety of different reasons failed to meet those minimum requirements that we laid out…And really the only way to mitigate the risk is to impose these travel restrictions,” he stated.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) told reporters on Friday that congressional Democrats plan to oppose the expansion in the courts as well as vote on the NO Ban Act—introduced in April of last year— to overturn the president’s decision, operating under the misguided assumption that bans are due to religious and racial bias. Even if the campaign is successful in the House of Representatives, it is unlikely that such a bill would receive any traction in the Senate.
To read the expanded list of countries, and the individual reasons for their suspensions, please click here.