New US order to curb or ban travel from eight countries

President Donald Trump slaps new travel restrictions on citizens from North Korea, Venezuela and Chad, expanding to eight the list of countries covered by his original bans that have been blasted by critics and challenged in court.

It imposes permanent curbs rather than 90-day suspensions; N. Korea among those on the list

WASHINGTON • President Donald Trump has issued a new order to restrict or suspend travel to the United States from eight countries, including North Korea, citing national security threats posed by letting their citizens into the country.

The new order is more far-reaching than his original ban, imposing permanent travel curbs rather than the 90-day suspension Mr Trump authorised soon after taking office.

Starting next month, most citizens of Iran, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Chad and North Korea will be indefinitely banned from entering the US, while some groups of people in Venezuela who seek to visit the US will face restrictions or heightened scrutiny.

Administration officials said the new move was the result of a deliberative, rigorous examination of security risks that was designed to avoid the chaotic roll-out of Mr Trump's first ban. And the addition of non-Muslim countries could address the legal attacks on earlier travel restrictions as discrimination based on religion.

The original travel ban caused chaos at airports in January and set off a legal challenge to the President's authority. It was followed by a revised ban in March, which expired on Sunday, even as the Supreme Court is set to hear arguments about its constitutionality on Oct 10.

The new order - Chad, North Korea and Venezuela are new to the list of affected countries and Sudan has been dropped from the original six - will take effect on Oct 18.

"As President, I must act to protect the security and interests of the United States and its people," Mr Trump said in the proclamation, which White House officials said had the same force as an executive order. He added that the curbs will remain in effect until the governments of the affected nations "satisfactorily address the identified inadequacies".

PROTECTING U.S. INTERESTS

As President, I must act to protect the security and interests of the United States and its people.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP, in the proclamation.

For Mr Trump, whose efforts on healthcare, infrastructure improvements and tax reform are floundering, the new order is a third attempt to make good on his campaign promise to respond to terror threats by tightening entry at the country's borders.

Administration officials said the new rules would not apply to legal permanent residents of the US, and that visitors who hold valid visas from the countries listed will not have their visas revoked.

That means students studying in the US can finish their studies and employees of businesses in the US who are from the targeted countries may stay for as long as their visas remain valid. People whose visas expire will be subject to the travel ban, officials said.

People seeking access to the US as refugees are not covered by the proclamation, officials said.

Reaction to the President's announcement was swift, as some critics of the original travel ban expressed similar concerns about his latest effort to toughen the country's border against potential terrorists and criminals.

"Six of President Trump's targeted countries are Muslim. The fact that Trump has added North Korea - with few visitors to the US - and a few government officials from Venezuela doesn't obfuscate the real fact that the administration's order is still a Muslim ban," said Mr Anthony Romero, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union. "President Trump's original sin of targeting Muslims cannot be cured by throwing other countries onto his enemies list."

NYTIMES

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 26, 2017, with the headline 'New US order to curb or ban travel from eight countries'. Print Edition | Subscribe