President Donald Trump ordered restrictions or suspensions on travel to the US from eight countries, replacing his ban on travellers from six Muslim-majority nations that had been limited by court challenges.
“I must act to protect the security and interests of the United States and its people,” Trump wrote in Sunday’s proclamation, which came as his earlier travel ban was set to expire.
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Speaking to reporters earlier, Trump said “the tougher, the better,” on the restrictions. During his presidential campaign, Trump spoke often of “extreme vetting” of those wanting to enter the US, and on Sunday he tweeted, “We will not admit those into our country we cannot safely vet.”
The new restrictions impact travel to varying degrees from Iran, Libya, Syria, Yemen and Somalia, all of which were on the original list. The US will also now restrict or ban travel from Venezuela, North Korea, and Chad. Each of the countries will be subject to its own set of restrictions, as set out in Sunday’s order. Sudan is no longer on the list.
The Department of Homeland Security will have the authority to add or remove travel restrictions on countries as conditions change, a senior administration official said.
New parts of the restrictions will take effect Oct. 18, a grace period that may prevent the kind of mass confusion seen at airports in the US and abroad after the initial iteration of the travel ban took effect immediately. Other limitations took effect Sunday.
“The State Department will coordinate with other federal agencies to implement these measures in an orderly manner,” Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said in a statement.
The previous travel ban was scheduled to expire on Sunday after the Supreme Court’s ruling in June, which tailored the ban to only include those who have no “bona fide relationship” to the US
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Acting Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke sent Trump recommendations for entry restrictions and additional visa requirements tailored to shortcomings in the information each country shares with the US and an assessment of the risk of terrorist infiltration the nation poses, administration officials told reporters on Friday.
“The restrictions announced are tough and tailored, and they send a message to foreign governments that they must work with us to enhance security,” Duke said in a statement Sunday.
In the order, Trump said the Secretary of Homeland Security assessed that Iraq also didn’t meet requirements for identity-management protocols and other risk-mitigating factors — but that entry restrictions weren’t warranted given the country’s ties to the US and efforts to combat terrorists.
Trump’s previous efforts to restrict travel to the US prompted court challenges, mass protests and criticism from corporate leaders.
He rescinded his first travel ban after it was halted by a judge and replaced it with a new executive order on March 6, which was challenged at the Supreme Court. That order was set for an Oct. 10 argument at the Supreme Court. It’s unclear how the new restrictions issued by Trump will impact that case, which also covers a separate provision of the order that suspends refugee admissions until Oct. 24.
Justice Department spokeswoman Sarah Flores said last week that government lawyers would continue to “vigorously defend” the travel restrictions. An administration official said an updated brief will be filed with the Supreme Court Sunday.
The travel restrictions could further inflame geopolitical tensions around the world as Trump is engaged in heated rhetoric against the governments of Iran, North Korea and Venezuela.
The US notified all countries in July of “baseline” standards they would need to meet to avoid travel restrictions, said Miles Taylor, a counsellor to Duke at DHS. Several countries didn’t respond to the US requests for more information, he said.
“Some countries didn’t even have the courtesy to say ‘fly a kite’,” Taylor said. “We’re talking about countries that were wilfully non-compliant and refused to engage with the United States.”
With Venezuela and North Korea now on the list, Trump’s ban may no longer be tagged as a de-facto ban on Muslims entering the US, as he pledged to do during his campaign. But that wasn’t the reason the two countries were added, a White House official said in a call with reporters.
Trump suggested this month, after the latest terror attack in London, that the current restrictions on travel to the US don’t go far enough.
“The travel ban into the United States should be far larger, tougher and more specific,” Trump tweeted Sept. 15, hours after a homemade bomb on a city subway injured dozens. “But stupidly, that would not be politically correct!”