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Trump Administration Announces Expansion of Travel Ban

Travelers make their way through Reagan National Airport in Washington, D.C., in 2015. (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)

The Trump administration on Friday announced it will expand to four more countries the existing travel ban, which bars citizens from certain Middle Eastern and African nations from entering the U.S. due to high rates of extremist violence and poor vetting processes in their home countries.

The new version of the travel ban will bar citizens of Nigeria, Eritrea, Myanmar and Kyrgyzstan from immigrating to the U.S., although they will still be permitted to apply to travel to America for business or pleasure. The ban will also bar Sudan and Tanzania from the diversity visa program, which awards green cards through lottery, however some citizens might be able to obtain waivers, according to U.S. officials. The new restrictions are scheduled to take effect on February 21.

President Trump confirmed last week that he was looking to add to the list of countries covered by the travel ban. The administration reportedly originally planned to make the announcement on Monday but was sidetracked by responding to the coronavirus outbreak, Politico reported Friday.

The attempts to expand the travel ban will almost certainly result in lawsuits against the administration. The ban previously applied to nationals of five countries, Iran, Libya, Syria, Somalia and Yemen. Originally, the White House had proposed including Sudan on the list as well and prohibiting all refugees temporarily for 120 days.

“The travel ban has been profoundly successful in protecting our country and raising the security baseline around the world,” White House spokesman Hogan Gidley said last week.

The original travel ban, introduced by the administration in 2017, was met with legal challenges, as critics accused Trump of illegal discrimination against Muslims, citing his campaign pledge to halt Muslim immigration. In response, the administration slightly revised the order, and the Supreme Court approved the implementation of most of it in December, 2017.

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