President Trump on Tuesday confirmed that the administration is looking to add to the list of countries covered by the travel ban that bars citizens of certain countries from entering the U.S. on national security grounds.
Trump revealed the administration’s plans to expand the travel ban to the Wall Street Journal at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. The president declined to reveal which countries the administration would seek to add to the ban, however.
Any attempts by the administration to expand the controversial travel ban will almost definitely result in legal challenges. The updated version is expected to be released later this month.
The ban currently applies to five Muslim-majority countries, Iran, Libya, Syria, Somalia and Yemen, and prohibits nationals of those countries from crossing the U.S. border. The ban also restricts visas for those from Venezuela and North Korea. Originally, the White House had proposed including Sudan on the list as well and prohibiting all refugees temporarily for 120 days.
Trump announced the ban in January, 2017, citing terrorism concerns from the countries listed in the order as well as distrust of the way the countries vet their travelers. The order was immediately met with challenges in several federal courts over whether it illegally discriminated against Muslims, with plaintiffs citing Trump’s campaign promise to halt the inflow of all Muslims regardless of their country of origin.
The administration then slightly revised the order, and the Supreme Court approved the implementation of most of it in December, 2017. The Court upheld the current version of the ban last summer.
The U.S. denied tens of thousands more visas in 2018 as a result of the travel ban, cutting visas to applicants from the countries covered by the ban 80 percent since 2016. The U.S. denies close to 4 million visa applications every year for a laundry list of reasons, including criminal activity and not qualifying for the particular visa sought.