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White House claims new travel ban enacted for national security

by Betül Duru - Staff Writer
Wed, Feb 19th 2020 12:00 pm
People protest the Trump administration's
new travel ban on mainly Muslim majority countries. Photo Courtesy of Google Images
People protest the Trump administration's new travel ban on mainly Muslim majority countries. Photo Courtesy of Google Images

On Friday, Jan. 31, the Trump administration announced a travel ban that would affect six new countries in Asia and Africa. These countries include Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan, Myanmar, Nigeria, Sudan and Tanzania. The ban will take effect on Friday, Feb. 21. 

This travel ban ensures the blockage of the citizens from these countries from obtaining certain types of visas. According to the Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf, these countries haven’t met the expectation for U.S. security and information sharing standards. 

“It is fundamental to national security, and the height of common sense, that if a foreign nation wishes to receive the benefits of immigration and travel to the United States, it must satisfy basic security conditions outlined by America’s law enforcement and intelligence professionals,” the White House representative said in a statement according to 10TV WBNS. 

The United States Department of Homeland Security (USDHS) Secretary made it clear the ban was only for formality reasons and to get off the list, the countries will work with officials on their security issues. 

“These countries, for the most part, want to be helpful but for a variety of different reasons simply failed to meet those minimum requirements that we laid out,” acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf told reporters from the BBC on Friday. 

During this time visas leading to permanent residency will not be available to citizens of Nigeria, Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan and Myanmar. 

Citizens of Sudan and Tanzania will be banned from the “diversity visas” during this time. “Diversity Visas” is a U.S. lottery program for permanent residence. 

“The Diversity Immigrant Visa Program (DV Program) makes up to 50,000 immigrant visas available annually, drawn from random selection among all entries to individuals who are from countries with low rates of immigration to the United States,” according to USCIS (U.S. citizenship and immigration services). 

Citizens who wish to enter the U.S. for a limited time period will not be affected by this ban. 

“Nonimmigrant visas were not affected for the additional countries, Wolf said. Those visas are given to people travelling to the U.S. for a temporary stay, including tourists, those doing business or people seeking medical treatment. During December 2019, for example, about 650,760 nonimmigrant visas were granted by the U.S. in total,” according to Aljazeera. 

Both immigrant advocates and the nationalities of these countries think it is another ‘Muslim ban’ the Trump administration is trying to pass as a part of his presidential plan. This ban seems to be an extension of the one taken on Jan. 27, 2017. 

“Kyrgyzstan and Sudan have large Muslim majorities, while around 50% of people in Nigeria and Eritrea are Muslim. Tanzania also has a sizable Muslim community,” according to BBC. 

This ban will impact Nigerian citizens the most. In 2018, 7,920 Nigerians were issued immigration visas, more than any of the other countries. 

The foreign minister of Nigeria, Geoffrey Onyeama said he wasn’t expecting anything like this from the U.S. According to the New York Times the foreign minister was assured that the visa restrictions would be lifted if they work together on it. 

“‘We know — and the U.S. officials have also confirmed — that we have been able to tick most of those boxes.” He [Onyeama] said that included efforts to directly share personal data — including immigrants’ criminal histories, stolen passport information and suspected links to terrorism — with the United States and Interpol member countries,” according to the New York Times. 

As a response to this action, Ilhan Omar (D-MN) went on Twitter introducing a potential new law. 

“Today, I introduced the Neighbors Not Enemies Act to fully repeal a 1798 law that allows the U.S. president to target groups of foreign nationals,” @IlhanMN via Twitter. “Trump even cited the law to justify the Muslim Ban. It’s past time to take this xenophobic law off the books.” 

As the 2020 elections are nearing this ban seems to be a tactic by the Trump administration to appease its voters. Trump’s promise to his voters was ‘to make America great again’ and he cracked down on muslim immigration at the start of his term and he is doing it again at the end of his term. 

“These tailored restrictions will make the U.S. safer and more secure,” Wolf said to NPR. “And countries that make the necessary improvements will have their restrictions removed accordingly.” 

“Geoffrey Onyeama, Nigeria’s foreign minister, said that his government was already working to address security concerns that Trump administration officials said had prompted the decision, announced last week, to reject visas for Nigerians seeking to immigrate to the United States,” according to the New York Times. 

“We were somewhat blindsided with the announement of the visa restrictions by the U.S.,” Mr. Onyeama told journalists at the State Department. But, he said, “we know — and the U.S. officials have also confirmed — that we have been able to tick most of those boxes.” 

He said that included efforts to directly share personal data — including immigrants’ criminal histories, stolen passport information and suspected links to terrorism — with the United States and Interpol member countries. Standing next to him, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said “Nigeria has room to grow in sharing important national security information.” 

Onyeama said the announcement initially had confused Nigeria’s government, but added that “it was very gratifying to come here, speaking to U.S. officials, and to understand more clearly the reasoning behind this.” 

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Taken by Vincent Croce:
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