Adding to a list of countries facing stringent travel restrictions imposed in 2017, President Trump signed a proclamation barring citizens of six other nations, including Nigeria, from gaining permanent residency in the United States.
Four of the six countries are in Africa — Nigeria, Eritrea, Sudan and Tanzania. The other two are Kyrgyzstan, a former Soviet state, and Myanmar in Southeast Asia. The six countries, barring Myanmar, have large Muslim populations.
“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,” Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf said Friday.
The proclamation, which cites the six countries’ failure to comply with U.S. security and information-sharing standards, will take effect Feb. 21, but these restrictions will not apply to refugees, officials have clarified.
The U.S. State Department issued about 7,900 immigrant visas to Nigerians in the last fiscal year.
“Citizens from Nigeria, Eritrea, Myanmar and Kyrgyzstan won’t be allowed to apply for visas to immigrate to the U.S. under the policy, which the Trump administration said was designed to tighten security for countries that don’t comply with the U.S. minimum security standards or cooperate to prevent illegal immigration,” The Wall Street Journal reported. “… Sudan and Tanzania will be barred from participating in the diversity visa lottery, which randomly awards green cards to 50,000 immigrants from underrepresented countries annually.”
U.S. Rep. Joe Neguse, D-Colo., said the decision unfairly singled out Africa, according to Reuters. “It is un-American to discriminate against immigrants solely because of where they come from or how they pray,” Neguse, son of Eritrean refugees, was quoted as saying.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., also called the restrictions “un-American” and discriminatory in a post on Twitter. “The Trump Admin’s expansion of its un-American travel ban is a threat to our security, our values and the rule of law. Barring more than 350 million people from predominantly African countries from traveling to the US, this rule is discrimination disguised as policy.”
She added that the Democrats would work on removing religious discrimination in the country’s immigration system within a few weeks, Reuters added.
In his proclamation, Trump explained, “Consistent with the January 2020 proposal, I have prioritized restricting immigrant visa travel over nonimmigrant visa travel because of the challenges of removing an individual in the United States who was admitted with an immigrant visa if, after admission to the United States, the individual is discovered to have terrorist connections, criminal ties, or misrepresented information.
“Because each of the six additional countries identified in the January 2020 proposal has deficiencies in sharing terrorist, criminal, or identity information, there is an unacceptable likelihood that information reflecting the fact that a visa applicant is a threat to national security or public safety may not be available at the time the visa or entry is approved.”
Trump’s original travel ban that was issued in 2017, and its subsequent versions, was blocked by a federal court but was later allowed by the Supreme Court.