Following rumors of the Trump administration’s intention to expand a travel ban first implemented in 2017, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officially announced new travel restrictions for six countries last Friday.
The six countries for which the travel ban will now be effective include Myanmar (Burma), Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan, Nigeria, Sudan, and Tanzania.
According to the announcement from DHS, the countries were added to the list due to their failure “to meet a series of security criteria, demonstrating that they could be a risk to the homeland.”
Additionally, DHS announced an enhanced review process for ensuring that other countries meet DHS security standards by further clarifying what must be done for a country to meet the standards in question.
The updated process also includes increased screening and vetting capabilities.
“DHS has refined its robust security standards, including enhanced screening and vetting capabilities, that allow us to better identify terrorists and criminals attempting to enter the United States,” acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf said of the new restrictions and updated procedures.
“For a small number of countries that lack either the will or the capability to adhere to these criteria, certain travel restrictions have become necessary to mitigate potential threats… These tailored restrictions will make the U.S. safer and more secure,” Wolf continued.
Following DHS’ announcement, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) described the expansion as “discrimination in disguise” for more than 350 million individuals before stating the Judiciary Committee’s plans to introduce a “NO BAN Act to prohibit religious discrimination in our immigration system.”
In response, Secretary Wolf challenged Speaker Pelosi’s claims saying, “Facts are stubborn. The new travel restrictions do not apply to 350 million people – as some of our critics would lead you to believe. Such statements are grossly inaccurate and irresponsible.”
Prior to the recent announcement, the travel ban applied to seven countries, including Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Yemen, Venezuela, and North Korea, though the Trump administration originally proposed including Iraq as well.
After a series of court challenges, a watered-down version of the ban was ultimately upheld in a 5-4 Supreme Court decision in 2018 that resulted in travel restrictions for the seven countries previously listed.
With the six new additions added last week, travel restrictions now exist for 13 foreign countries.
Like the restrictions imposed in 2018, if security standards are met, the travel ban for new countries announced last week will be lifted.
Travelers who already possess visas issued by the U.S. government, will not be affected by the ban.
As the ban currently stands, immigrant and non-immigrant visas issued to individuals from countries on the list are suspended with exceptions for individuals with “significant contacts” in the United States and for students.
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Sarah McConnell is a reporter for The Texan. Previously, she worked as a Cyber Security Consultant after serving as a Pathways Intern at the Department of Homeland Security – Citizenship and Immigration Services. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Texas A&M as well as her Master of Public Service and Administration degree from the Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M. In her free time, Sarah is an avid runner, jazz enthusiast, and lover of all things culinary.