On January 31, 2020, President Trump issued a Presidential Proclamation expanding “Travel Ban 3.0” to include certain foreign nationals of the following six countries: Burma (Myanmar), Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan, Nigeria, Sudan, and Tanzania. According to the Department of Homeland Security, these foreign states failed to meet security assessment criteria. They were deemed to have inadequate identity-management protocols, information-sharing practices, and pose risk factors to US security.
Travel Ban 3.0 was issued initially in September 2017, entitled “Enhancing Vetting Capabilities and Processes for Detecting Attempted Entry into the United States by Terrorists or Other Public-Safety Threats.” This proclamation was issued to assess whether nationals of each country seeking to enter the US pose national security or public safety threat. Seven of the eight countries initially subject to entry restrictions remain affected by the travel ban: Chad, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Syria, Venezuela, and Yemen. In response, the proclamation faced several legal challenges on its constitutionality and whether it violated federal immigration laws. In 2018, SCOTUS held in Trump v. Hawaii that President Trump lawfully exercised his authority of broad discretion to suspend the entry of foreign nationals. Furthermore, Section 1182(f) of the Immigration and Nationality Act gives the President “ample power” to impose restrictions for legitimate purposes of US national security.
The new travel ban expansion becomes effective 12:01 AM EST, February 21, 2020. It should be noted that travel restrictions have only been placed on those seeking immigrant visas. Individuals from these countries seeking nonimmigrant visas or individuals whose visa was issued before the effective date will not be affected. Under the proclamation, the foreign states subject to restrictions will be assessed under additional screening measures and will be issued a report by DHS every 180 days. The report shall determine whether to remove or continue the restrictions per country. By law, the President is not required to prescribe a fixed end-date of suspension and may carry out the ban “so long as necessary.”
All six of the new countries have substantial Muslim populations. Among innocent individuals affected by the ban include Rohingya Muslim minority fleeing genocide in Myanmar, and nationals of Sudan and Tanzania are no longer eligible to move to the US through the diversity visa lottery. The potential effect on Nigeria–Africa’s largest and most populous country–could be particularly severe on family separation. According to a study by Pew Research Center, as of 2017, about 348,000 Nigerian immigrants are living in the US, making Nigeria the top birthplace among African immigrants in the country. Expansion of restrictions is likely to cease reunification of Nigerian families in the US and bring about levels of detachment between family members. Also, as a country ally in anti-terrorism efforts, Nigerians have contributed much to the US economy. A Migration Policy Institute study shows that first- and second-generation Nigerians have a bachelor’s degree or higher education and are more likely to hold professional jobs than the general US population. Although the Administration argues that the travel ban serves to uphold national security, it is arguably side-lining international relations and humanitarian and economic interests.