The United States of America has added three new countries to its controversial travel ban.
President Donald Trump
The United States has expanded its controversial travel ban to include people from North Korea, Venezuela and Chad. The White House said the restrictions follow a review of information sharing by foreign governments.
Donald Trump issued a presidential proclamation late on Sunday.
“Making America safe is my number one priority. We will not admit those into our country we cannot safely vet,” Mr Trump said.
The restrictions on Venezuelans apply only to government officials and their family members. The three new countries join five others from Mr Trump’s original travel ban: Iran, Libya, Syria, Yemen, and Somalia. But the new proclamation removed restrictions that were placed on Sudan.
Mr Trump’s original ban was highly controversial, as it affected six majority-Muslim countries, and was widely labelled a “Muslim ban”. It was subject to a range of legal challenges and several large-scale protests, and is due to be considered by the US Supreme Court in October, having been partly reinstated in July.
The American Civil Liberties Union rights group said the addition of the new countries “doesn’t obfuscate the real fact that the administration’s order is still a Muslim ban”. It is not yet clear how the president’s new proclamation, which changes several key elements, will affect that legal challenge.
The addition of North Korea and Venezuela now means not all nations on the list are majority-Muslim. The criteria for the new ban list is now based on vetting procedures and co-operation, and the restrictions have now been “tailored” on a country-by-country basis:
*The White House said North Korea did not co-operate with the US government “in any respect” and failed all requirements – and so all travel to the US by its citizens has been banned.
*Chad, while an important counter-terrorism partner, did not share terrorism-related and other public information the US required – business and tourist visas for its nationals are suspended.
*Only “certain Venezuelan government officials and their immediate family members” have been banned – its government has recently been hit with economic sanctions by the US, who now say it does not co-operate “in verifying whether its citizens pose national security or public-safety threats” and does not receive deported nationals willingly.
Most of the restrictions come in the form of suspension of B-1 and B-2 business and tourist visas, and they do not appear to be time-limited in the way that Mr Trump’s former executive order was.
In a fact sheet accompanying Mr Trump’s proclamation, the White House said that while Iraq also falls short of the required criteria, the country was not included in the new restrictions “because of the close co-operative relationship between the United States” and their part in fighting so-called Islamic State.
The restrictions come into effect on 18 October, but will not apply to those already in possession of a valid visa, the White House said.