US President Donald Trump is expected to announce immigration bans on nationals of six more countries – mostly Muslim-majority nations – in an expanded version of the original travel ban imposed after he took office.
In a press conference on Friday, acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf said that Washington would no longer issue visa that can lead to permanent residency for nationals of Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan, Myanmar and Nigeria.
He added that targeted immigrant visas were distinct from non-immigrant ones typically issued to visitors, which would not be affected by the ban.
Wolf also said that the US government would no longer issue “diversity visas” to nationals of Sudan and Tanzania. These visas, which drew criticisms from Trump in the past, are those that can be obtained through lottery and are issued for applicants from countries with low rates of immigration to the US.
According to the acting secretary of the US Department of Homeland Security, the six countries allegedly failed to meet US security and information-sharing standards, thus necessitating the new restrictions.
“These countries, for the most part, want to be helpful. But for a variety of different reasons simply failed to meet those minimum requirements that we laid out,” Wolf said, citing a range of problems from sub-par passport technology to a failure to sufficiently exchange information on terrorism suspects and criminals.
During his first week in office in January 2017, Trump issued his original travel ban, which prevented almost all immigrants and travelers from seven Muslim-majority countries but after court challenges it reduced to its exiting 5-countries version, which impacted nationals of Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen.
The American president has made his immigration clampdown a focus of his 2020 reelection campaign and is expected to press the issue in the months ahead.
The new move by the Trump’s administration has reignited debate over the discriminately nature of the policy against Muslims. Critics criticize the ban which disproportionately targets Muslim-majority nations.
Back in 2015 and during his campaign for president, Trump called for “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.”
Kyrgyzstan, Nigeria and Sudan are Muslim-majority. Eritrea and Tanzania have sizable Muslim minorities.