Trump expands travel ban on immigrants from Nigeria, 5 other countries

U.S. President Donald Trump issued on Friday an expanded version of a travel ban targeting prospective immigrants from Nigeria and five other countries

The move is expected to affect thousands of people and reignite debate on whether the policy is discriminatory.

Of the six countries added to the latest ban, four are African countries and three have Muslim-majority populations. Both Democrats and immigration advocates accuse the Trump administration of seeking to expand its original 2017 ban which targeted Muslim-majority nations and of disproportionately focusing on African countries.

Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf told reporters in a phone call that the six countries failed to meet U.S. security and information-sharing standards, which necessitated the new restrictions. The problems Wolf cited are ranging from sub-par passport technology to a failure to sufficiently exchange information on terrorism suspects and criminals.

Belarus, which had been under consideration for inclusion, took steps to remedy deficiencies during recent months and will not face visa restrictions, Wolf added.

The United States will suspend the issuance of visas that can lead to permanent residency for nationals of Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan, Myanmar, and Nigeria, a presidential proclamation revealed. Temporary visas for tourists, businesspeople, students, and workers from those nations shall not be affected, it said.

The U.S. government also will stop issuing “diversity visas” to nationals of Sudan and Tanzania, the proclamation added. The visas, which the Trump administration has criticized, are available by lottery for applicants from countries with low rates of immigration.

“These countries, for the most part, want to be helpful,” Wolf explained, “but for a variety of different reasons simply failed to meet those minimum requirements that we laid out.”

The original travel ban barred nearly all immigrants and travelers from seven countries of Muslim-majority populations. The policy was revised amid court challenges. However, in June 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court ultimately upheld it.

Trump has made cracking down on immigration a key focus of his 2020 re-election campaign. His travel ban policy is highly hailed by Republican supporters.

The existing version of the ban includes Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen. North Korea and Venezuela also face visa bars, yet those measures affect relatively few travelers. Those restrictions will still remain in place.

The new travel ban will take effect on February 21, the proclamation said.

Source: Reuters