POLITICS

White House's Plan To Dramatically Extend Controversial Travel Ban Triggers Outcry

The ban could be extended to an additional seven countries that haven't yet been publicly revealed.

Democratic lawmakers and civil rights groups are blasting reported White House plans to dramatically extend the travel ban targeting Muslim-majority nations to several more countries.

The Trump administration’s current ban on travel to the U.S. from seven nations could be dramatically extended to as many as seven additional countries, according to documents obtained by BuzzFeed. One of the documents was a draft presidential proclamation instituting an expanded ban and other restrictions, according to BuzzFeed.

“An election must be coming up,” Georgetown law professor and onetime acting Solicitor General Neal Katyal cynically tweeted after the news broke. 

Muslim lawmakers Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) and Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) sharply criticized the plan and called for passage of the federal No Ban Act, which was introduced last year. The measure would limit President Donald Trump’s ability to restrict entry to the U.S., require specific reasons for any restrictions and prohibit religious discrimination.

Rep. Judy Chu (D-Calif.), who introduced the No Ban Act with Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.), denounced the current ban as based on “prejudice and xenophobia.” Coons called its proposed extension “wrong and un-American.” He added: “We will not tolerate discrimination based on religion or nationality.”

Currently, travel to the U.S. is banned from the predominantly Muslim nations of Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen. Travel is also prohibited from Venezuela and North Korea.

New countries affected by the ban could include Iraq, Sudan and Chad, which were included in the Trump administration’s initial ban in 2017 but then dropped, The Associated Press reported.

It’s still uncertain what the final list will look like because the countries named in the plans now being circulated have been blacked out and the plan has not yet been finalized, according to the AP.

BuzzFeed said the countries were not named in the documents it obtained, but the descriptions of the countries gave some hints to their identities. One country is described as an “important strategic partner in the global fight against terrorism” that is failing in “identity management” travel issues, BuzzFeed reported. Another country does not “work with the United States on border and immigration security issues.”

The expanded ban would reportedly be timed to coincide with the third anniversary of Trump’s first controversial ban. A version of that ban was upheld by the Supreme Court in 2018. In a 5-4 vote, the court’s conservatives ruled that the president’s power to secure U.S. borders, delegated by Congress, was not undermined by Trump’s inflammatory statements about Muslims. 

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