WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump’s administration on Friday added six countries to the controversial travel ban he put in place early in his term, a move that could potentially trigger another legal battle in a highly volatile election year.
Department of Homeland Security officials said the administration will suspend issuing overseas visas for nationals of Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan, Myanmar and Nigeria. The agency said it would also place additional restrictions on Sudanese and Tanzanian nationals.
The White House said the new countries fail to conduct “proper identity management” procedures or fail to “comply with basic national security” requirements.
“It is fundamental to national security, and the height of common sense, that if a foreign nation wishes to receive the benefits of immigration and travel to the United States, it must satisfy basic security conditions outlined by America’s law-enforcement and intelligence professionals,” the White House said in a statement.
The new restrictions will not apply to tourist or business travel, the White House said, but rather to visas that are issued to immigrants who intend to live in the U.S.
Trump’s travel ban, which the administration re-worked after a series of court challenges, already suspended the issuance of immigrant and non-immigrant visas to applicants from Libya, Iran, Somalia, Syria, Yemen, North Korea and Venezuela.
The initial ban triggered a 17-month political and legal battle in which critics accused Trump of unconstitutionally targeting Muslims. The uproar included protests in cities and chaos at airports where some passengers from affected countries were detained.
After several revisions, the Supreme Court upheld the ban on a 5-4 vote in 2018.
Critics slammed Trump’s move to expand the ban.
“Reviving this ban, and the anti-Muslim sentiment in which it originated, is a violation of the values of human rights and human dignity, and it must be overturned,” said Margaret Huang, Amnesty International USA’s executive director. “The policies this administration has enacted towards people seeking safety have been cruel, inhumane, bigoted.”
Contributing: John Fritze, Deirdre Shesgreen