The Trump administration declared new restrictions Sunday on visitors from eight nations — a spread of the preexisting travel ban that has spurred angry legal debates over security, immigration and injustice.
In declaring the new rules, officials said they are determining to be both solid and targeted. The move comes on the day the key part of President Trump’s travel ban, one which bars the issuance of approval to citizens of six majority-Muslim nations, was due to expire.
“As president, I must act to assure the security and interests of the United States and its people,” Trump wrote in a notification declaring the changes for visitors from specific countries. On Twitter, he added: “Making America Secure is my number one preference. We will not permit those into our country we cannot carefully vet.”
Trump’s original travel ban, signed as a governing order in the first days of his presidency, was always suggest to be a temporary part while his administration crafted more stable rules. A senior administration official cautioned the new restrictions are not suggesting to last forever, but are “significant and conditions-based, not time-based.’’
The new travel ban performs the third version provided by the Trump administration.
Three nations were added to the list of countries whose civilians will face the restrictions: Chad, North Korea and Venezuela — although the restrictions on Venezuela are carefully crafted, targeting that country’s leadership and their family members.
One country, Sudan, fell off the travel ban list expressed at the beginning of the year. Senior administration officials said a report of Sudan’s cooperation with the U.S. government on national security and information-sharing displayed it was applicable to remove it from the list.
The new restrictions will be phased in over time, officials said, and the restrictions will not alter anyone who already holds a U.S. visa. For those visitors altered by the changed restrictions, the new rules will go into response Oct. 18, according to the proclamation.
The new rules differ per country, barring entry into the United States of immigrants and non-immigrants from Chad, Libya and Yemen, on business, tourist or business-tourist visas. It bars entry of Iranian citizens, as immigrants or non-immigrants, but brings an exception for Iranian students, afforded they receive extra screening. The notification bars immigrants and non-immigrants from North Korea and Syria. It bars immigration by civilians of Somalia.
Critics of the administration have disagreed that the travel bans are an unconstitutional attempt to bring on Trump’s campaign assurance of “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.” Administration officials reject any of the bans were aimed at Muslims, saying they are based on security burdens about visitors from nations with failing or feeble governments.
“The restrictions either formerly or now were never, ever based on race, religion or faith,’’ one senior administration official said. “Those governments are easily not compliant with our fundamental security requirements.”
Anthony Romero, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union, said adding North Korea and Venezuela to the administration’s list does not fix the travel ban’s core issue.
“President Trump’s fundamental sin of targeting Muslims,” he said, “cannot be improved by throwing other nations onto his enemies list.”
The original version, signed as an executive order in January, blocked civilians of seven majority-Muslim nations — Iraq, Iran, Sudan, Somalia, Libya, Yemen and Syria — as well as all exiles across the world.
When that part was blocked in court, Trump signed an improved order removing Iraq from the banned list and only barring the issuance of visas to civilians of the six remaining nations and all refugees.
The second order, too, was blocked by judges, but the Supreme Court in June permitted it to go into response with an important caveat. The administration, the court said, could not block from entering the nation those with a “bona fide” connection to the United States, such as family members or those with firm offers of employment.
The ban on civilians of the six nations was to last 90 days; the ban on refugees was to last 120 days. The refugee ban is set to close Oct. 24, and it was not instantly clear what brunt the new restrictions might have on it.
The Supreme Court has expected arguments for Oct. 10 on whether the measure, at its core, is valid. The Justice Department signaled Sunday night that the new rules could alter how the court handles the case — lawyers for the administration filed a letter asking for new court blunts to address problems raised by the new rules.
In describing how the administration came to cite these eight nations, officials said many governments already met U.S. requests — using protected biometric passports, for example, and willingly passing along terrorism and criminal-history data. Others agreed to make changes and share more information. But some were either helpless or unwilling to give the United States what it required, officials said.
The president had signaled prior this month that an expansion of the travel ban was likely. Citing an attack in London, Trump wrote on Twitter, “The travel ban into the United States should be far bigger, tougher and more special — but stupidly, that would not be politically true!”