The new proposed US travel ban: An Explainer

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Earlier in the week, the president of the United States of America, Donald Trump, announced new economic and geopolitical plans while addressing reporters at the World Economic Forum in Switzerland. Among a plethora of initiatives and programs announced, the one that has sent the most shockwaves around the world is Trump’s indication that he intends to expand his controversial travel ban on seven countries around the world. “We’re adding a couple of countries to it. We have to be safe,” Trump explained to the reporters. “You see what’s going on in the world. Our country has to be safe.” The president did not specify which countries would be subjected to the travel ban but news reports have indicated that seven countries will be added to the list namely Belarus, Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan, Myanmar, Nigeria, Sudan, and Tanzania; Trump also added that official confirmation would be coming soon.

What travel bans?

The Trump travel ban is a series of executive actions undertaken by Donald Trump in the early days of his presidency in 2017. In 2015, while campaigning for the presidency, Trump had called for “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what the hell is going on.” Within weeks of taking office, he signed an order that seriously restricted citizens of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen, all Muslim-majority countries, from traveling to America. The ban was criticized and challenged in courts. After a lengthy legal battle and a Supreme Court ruling, it now restricts some citizens of Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Yemen, Venezuela and North Korea.

How would the new bans look like?

Coming on the third anniversary of the earlier bans, commentators have said that the new bans would not be as harsh as the initial one in 2017. A total blanket ban of all citizens is not expected, instead, government officials are expected to face scrutiny on travel applications as well as shorter visa time-frames for visitors. The Wall Street Journal reports that business or visitor visa may also face restrictions. In a statement on the proposed ban, White House spokesman, Hogan Gidley, said that the Trump administration was taking all these actions to protect the United States and urged affected states to comply with the counter-terrorism mandate. “Common sense and national security both dictate that if a country wants to fully participate in U.S. immigration programs, they should also comply with all security and counter-terrorism measures,” he said. “Because we do not want to import terrorism or any other national security threat into the United States.”

Why is Nigeria included?

It is unclear why Nigeria is included on the list but a clue could be provided by the Trump administration’s aversion to immigration. In 2018, Nigerians accounted for the third-largest visa overstays in America; leading to tougher immigration procedures by America. The visa interview waiver for frequent Nigerian travelers has been indefinitely suspended, requiring applicants to attend an interview; the prices of visas were also increased and despite Nigeria trying to get the US to reduce the price, they have stayed intact. Another reason why Nigerian may have been added is due to terrorism, the north-east of the country has been plagued by incessant terrorist attacks and has become a key route for global terrorism.

Where does the Nigerian-American relationship go from here?

The ban is surprising considering that America and Nigerian enjoy a good relationship. The countries are anti-terrorism partners and have worked together extensively in the past – it remains to be seen how this all plays out.

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