Africa: Trump Reportedly Adding Tanzania, Eritrea and Sudan to U.S. Travel Ban

Secretary of State Michael Pompeo, left, watches as President Donald Trump addresses journalists in New York (file photo).
22 January 2020

New York — President Donald Trump may reportedly expand his ban on travel to the US to include seven more countries, including Tanzania, Eritrea, Nigeria and Sudan.

An official announcement is expected next Monday; the three-year anniversary of Mr Trump's original order banning visits to the US by many citizens of some nations with Muslim majorities.

The plan under consideration by the Trump administration, which is said to also include Belarus, Myanmar (also known as Burma) and Kyrgyzstan, would not necessarily apply to all citizens from the newly designated nations, the Washington-based news outlet Politico reported on Tuesday.

The contemplated prohibition might extend only to certain government officials or to certain types of visas, Politico said.

US ALLIES

But any new restrictions on travel to the US are certain to strain relations with the affected countries, some of which cooperate closely with the US on counter-terrorism strategy and operations.

Tanzania, for example, has generally been referred to by US officials as a valued ally. And Sudan, where a long-ruling dictator was deposed last year, has been providing intelligence on suspected terrorists and is working diligently to restore full trade relations with the US.

White House spokesman Hogan Gidley declined to confirm details about plans to expand the travel ban, but defended the original order in a statement.

"The travel ban has been profoundly successful in protecting our country and raising the security baseline around the world," Mr Gidley is quoted as telling Politico.

"While there are no new announcements at this time, common sense and national security both dictate that if a country wants to fully participate in US immigration programs, they should also comply with all security and counter-terrorism measures -- because we do not want to import terrorism or any other national security threat into the United States."

GROWING LIST

Somalia is among the countries included in the existing travel ban, which had been modified as a result of court challenges.

Iran, Libya, Syria and Yemen are also on the existing blacklist, along with Venezuela and North Korea.

The Wall Street Journal noted in a follow-up story on Wednesday that some of the countries under consideration for a new ban have higher than average rates of citizens overstaying their US visas.

The Journal cites US government statistics indicating that 24 percent of Eritrean visitors overstayed their visas, as did 15 percent of Nigerians and 12 percent of Sudanese.

The overall visa overstay rate is put at 1.9 percent.

The New York Times reported two years ago that Mr Trump had said of Nigerians visiting the US that they would never "go back to their huts."

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