Rights Groups Decry New Travel Restrictions: 'This Is Still A Muslim Ban'

Most of the countries on the new list are still Muslim-majority, said Becca Heller, IRAP's director.

President Donald Trump’s third attempt to restrict travel to the United States from a handful of countries is just as xenophobic as the previous ones, refugee advocates and human rights groups lamented.

“This is still a Muslim ban - they simply added three additional countries,” Becca Heller, director of the International Refugee Assistance Project, said in a statement of the new restrictions, which were issued on Sunday. “Of those countries, Chad is majority Muslim, travel from North Korea is already basically frozen and the restrictions on Venezuela only affect government officials on certain visas. You can’t get any more transparent than that.”

Anthony D. Romero, the American Civil Liberties Union’s executive director, also decried the new restrictions.

“President Trump’s original sin of targeting Muslims cannot be cured by throwing other countries onto his enemies list,” he said in a statement.

Avideh Moussavian, senior policy attorney, National Immigration Law Center compared the new variation of the ban to a new coat of paint, which “won’t repair a house with dangerous structural problems.”

Unlike the previous ban, which expired on Sunday, the new rules are set to last indefinitely. And rather than a blanket ban, the restrictions will differ from country to country. For example, certain Venezuelan government officials and their families are targeted, while students from Iran can still enter but will be subjected to “enhanced screening and vetting.”

In addition, Sudan was dropped from the list of targeted countries, a decision that Heller linked to an announcement last week by the Department of Homeland Security that ends the nation’s Temporary Protected Status in 2018. That provision allows nationals of certain countries who are living in the U.S. to remain due to concerns such as armed conflict or national disasters.

Heller said that the change suggests that “the government of Sudan was pressured into agreeing to accept massive numbers of deported Sudanese nationals from the U.S. in exchange for being dropped from the travel ban.”

The administration said that the new ban was the result of a worldwide review conducted in recent months to determine what kinds of additional information the U.S. would need to determine whether someone coming into the country is a security threat.

“Making America Safe is my number one priority. We will not admit those into our country we cannot safely vet,” Trump said in a tweet.

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