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31 Jan, 2020 21:09

Trump to expand travel ban, targeting immigrants from 6 more countries

Trump to expand travel ban, targeting immigrants from 6 more countries

US President Donald Trump will issue an updated version of his controversial travel ban, acting Homeland Security head Chad Wolf said Friday. The existing ban will remain in place, having been okayed by the Supreme Court in 2018.

Speaking to reporters by phone, Wolf said that the updated ban will suspend immigrant visas for nationals of Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan, Myanmar and Nigeria. Non-immigrant visas from these countries will not be affected. 

‘Diversity Visas’ – handed out by lottery to boost immigration from countries with low rates of immigration to the US – for nationals of Sudan and Tanzania will also be restricted.

Wolf said that the countries in question have failed to meet American security and information sharing standards, citing poor passport security and inadequate terrorism screening.

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Belarus was initially slated to appear on the blacklist, but according to Wolf, managed to remedy its shortcomings in time to avoid a ban. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is due to touch down in Belarus on Saturday, and the decision to strike the eastern European country from the list may have partly been a goodwill gesture, given that Pompeo is likely seeking to pull Belarus away from the influence of its neighbor, Russia.

“These countries for the most part want to be helpful, they want to do the right thing, they have relationships with the US, but for a variety of different reasons failed to meet those minimum requirements,” Wolf said. He added that Trump will issue the ban later on Friday.

The ban will likely be trashed by Democrats and barraged with legal opposition. Trump’s first travel ban, which affected some citizens of Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria, Venezuela and Yemen, was issued just one week into his presidency in 2017, and was widely construed as a “Muslim ban.”

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The ban was challenged in several federal courts, with the Supreme Court eventually accepting a revised version, which came into force in 2018.

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