A newly revealed internal document shows that Donald Trump’s administration plans to expand its travel ban to add additional countries. While the document has been “circulating the White House,” the potential new countries are unclear, two people familiar with the deliberations told the Associated Press.
Trump signed the first travel ban executive order in 2017 at the end of his first week in office as part of an attempt to uphold his campaign promise of barring Muslims and creating a “complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.” The current travel ban, which was approved by the Supreme Court in 2018 after modifications were made, includes Iran, Syria, Libya, Venezuela, North Korea, Yemen, and Somalia.
Although the additional countries’ names are not shown on the document draft, descriptions are included on why they might be part of the new ban. Some countries were listed as “a ‘risk’ of ‘terrorist travel,’” while another is characterized as not cooperating with the U.S. on immigration and border security, BuzzFeed News reported. According to a source who spoke to the Associated Press, the expansion could include countries previously recommended but removed from Trump’s initial travel ban, including Iraq, Sudan, and Chad. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officials suggested restrictions on the new countries after conducting a “review of security protocols and ‘identity management,’” the AP reported.
From BuzzFeed News, which obtained a copy of the document:
“In addition to maintaining the current restrictions, the Secretary recommended restrictions on additional countries that failed to satisfy the baseline criteria, as informed by the outcomes of the new, enhanced methodology,” the draft proclamation reads. “Now, therefore, I, Donald J. Trump, by the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, including sections 212(f) and 215(a) of the Immigration and Nationality Act...hereby find that, absent measures set forth in this proclamation, the immigrant entry in the United States of persons described in Section 1 of this proclamation would be detrimental to the interests of the United States and that their entry should be subject to certain restrictions, limitations and exceptions.”
BuzzFeed News also reports that the DHS media team has been preparing for questions regarding the potential plan.
“Q: How many of these countries are majority Muslim? A: DHS did not consider or even research the predominate religion practiced in these or any country as part of its review. As a result, we would refer you to publicly available information about the demographics of these countries,” read one answer of a document titled “response to queries.”
The document appears to be a set of questions the agency predicts it will receive as the proclamation is announced and includes questions like “why are these countries facing travel restrictions?” and why the new restrictions include fewer visa categories than the initial travel ban.
White House spokesman Hogan Gidley did not confirm the news of a new travel ban. Instead, in a statement, Gidley spoke of how the current “travel plan has been very successful in protecting our Country and raising the security baseline around the world,” according to the Associated Press.
Two years ago, when I read the news that the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in a 5-4 vote to uphold Trump’s travel ban on immigration from several Muslim-majority countries, I thought back to my first experience in public school. My parents removed me from a full-time Islamic school after Sept. 11 out of fear of the threats the school kept receiving. Don’t get me wrong: They still fully practiced Islam, but they thought that as elementary school children, my brother and I should not be fearing for our safety every day.
I was excited to attend a new school and make new friends. As a proud Pakistani I never thought I’d want to hide my identity, and looking back on the conversations I had as a fourth-grader is baffling. Only days after starting to attend my new school, a friend told me they couldn’t speak to me anymore because my country hated America. I was confused: My country was America. I later learned she assumed I was from Afghanistan and was under the impression that all Afghans hated America.
Years later, reading about our president's plan to further limit Muslim tourism and immigration from Muslim countries brings back similar feelings. I remember before the countries listed were officially announced I hoped Pakistan would not be on the list and today, again, that fear arises. As the Trump administration plans to expand its travel ban, I fear for my roots, I fear for my family, and I fear for this country.
As the presidential election approaches, Trump is expected to once again campaign on his promises to end illegal immigration and fight terrorism in his bid for reelection. His hate toward Muslim countries, citizens, and refugees seeking asylum is vividly displayed in the policies he creates and the conversation he invokes. We can only hope that legislators, advocates, and communities will continue to stand up against his bigotry and end the possibility of another Muslim ban.