President Donald Trump announced the expansion of his controversial travel ban on Friday, adding several more countries to the list put in place by executive order in 2017.
The expanded list includes six more countries: Myanmar, Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan, Nigeria, Sudan and Tanzania.
The proclamation, which will go into effect Feb. 21 at 12:01 a.m., will primarily impact immigrant visas and those seeking to reside in the United States, including diversity visa seekers.
Specifically, the U.S. is suspending immigrant visas ― the type of visa given to people seeking to live in the U.S. permanently ― for people from Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan, Myanmar and Nigeria. People from Sudan and Tanzania will no longer be issued diversity visas.
Nationals who already entered the country or have already been issued a visa will not be impacted, according to a Department of Homeland Security spokesperson. The administration said the new countries have failed to meet U.S. security and information-sharing standards, which resulted in the new restrictions.
Certain exemptions such as for government translators and contractors will be taken into consideration. Student visas from the new countries will not be impacted.
“This chaos has become the new normal. The policies this administration has enacted towards people seeking safety have been cruel, inhumane, bigoted,” said Margaret Huang, Amnesty International USA’s executive director, in a statement.
“Reviving this ban, and the anti-Muslim sentiment in which it originated, is a violation of the values of human rights and human dignity, and it must be overturned,” Huang continued.
On the third anniversary of the travel ban earlier this week, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced that the House Judiciary Committee planned to bring the National Origin-Based Antidiscrimination for Nonimmigrants Act, also known as the No Ban Act, to the floor for a vote.
The bill, introduced by Rep. Judy Chu (D-Calif.) in the House and Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) in the Senate, would end the current travel ban, which largely targets citizens of Muslim-majority nations, and would restrict future presidents from enacting similar bans.
More than 42,000 people have been barred from entering the United States based on their country of origin, according to a 2019 report by the Brennan Center for Justice, a nonpartisan law and policy institute at New York University Law School. The existing version of the ban, which affects citizens from five majority-Muslim nations (Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen), as well as Venezuela and North Korea, will remain in effect.
In 2018, the U.S. State Department rejected more than 37,000 visa applications because of the travel ban. That same year, the U.S. resettled less than half the number of refugees allowed entry to the U.S., 70% of whom were Christian and only about 15% of whom were Muslim, according to a 2019 report by the National Immigration Law Center.
Since the ban’s enactment, couples have been forced to live apart and parents have been separated from their children. Some Americans have chosen to move to war-torn countries just so they could reunite with their families.
Trump first signed Executive Order 13769 in January 2017 after calling for “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States” during his presidential campaign. In the aftermath of the order, thousands protested the ban at airports across the country.
The original ban has since been revised several times and challenged repeatedly in federal courts over claims that it discriminates against Muslims.
After the ban was upheld by the Supreme Court in 2018, lawsuits were forced back into the lower courts. Just last week, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit, in Richmond, Virginia, heard arguments from three lawsuits to decide whether to dismiss the case entirely out of the lower courts, putting an end to legal action against the travel ban.