Trump Administration Revises Travel Ban To Expand Beyond Muslim-Majority Countries

Sep 24, 2017

The Trump administration is updating its travel ban, just hours before it was set to expire. In a proclamation signed by President Trump on Sunday, the travel restrictions now include eight countries, a couple of which are not majority-Muslim, as had been the case with all the nations in the original ban.

Five countries in the previous ban remain under restriction: Iran, Libya, Syria, Yemen and Somalia. Chad, North Korea and Venezuela have been added. The latter two are the first nations included in a version of the travel ban that do not have majority-Muslim populations, which has been a key point in litigation challenging the ban as discriminatory based on religion.

Sudan has been dropped from the order. Restrictions for Somalia will be relaxed for non-immigrant visitors, and restrictions for Iran will be relaxed for students and other exchange visitors.

The new restrictions on Chad and North Korea are a broad ban on nationals from those countries entering the U.S. For Venezuela, restrictions apply to government officials and their immediate family.

These changes are set to take effect on Oct. 18, though the restrictions on Sudan will be lifted immediately, as a result of security baselines defined by the administration.

The White House said in a statement, "The President has also determined that while Iraq did not meet the baseline, entry restrictions are not warranted under the September 24 proclamation."

"Following an extensive review by the Department of Homeland Security, we are taking action today to protect the safety and security of the American people by establishing a minimum security baseline for entry into the United States," President Trump said in the statement. "We cannot afford to continue the failed policies of the past, which present an unacceptable danger to our country. My highest obligation is to ensure the safety and security of the American people, and in issuing this new travel order, I am fulfilling that sacred obligation."

The White House also hailed the proclamation as "aimed at creating — for the first time in history — minimum requirements for international cooperation to support visa and immigration vetting and adjudications for individuals seeking entry to the United States."

There are some exceptions for nationals from the eight countries who have "bona fide" connections to the U.S., though narrower than what was ordered by the Supreme Court in its temporary ruling on the travel ban. The high court will hear arguments on the merits of the travel ban on Oct. 10.

The original travel ban was signed by Trump during his first week in office and caused chaos at airports as some nationals from the seven majority-Muslim countries on the original list were caught up in the ban mid-transit. Protests also broke out at many airports.

The original countries were Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. The first order was put on hold by a federal judge in Washington State, and that ruling was backed by an appeals court.

A second order was signed to revise the original, allowing in people from targeted countries who already held green cards and valid visas. Iraq was also removed from the ban.

A blanket ban on all refugee entry into the U.S., except for those with close family already in the country. That portion expires on Oct. 24.

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