New travel ban has dropped Sudan from the list of banned countries but the White House has given no official reason why
The US President’s highly controversial travel ban, which was unveiled on Sunday evening, has been extended to eight countries. Citizens of North Korea, Venezuela and Chad joined the list of those restricted from entering the US.
The newly unveiled ban revealed Sudan had been dropped from the list and would no longer be subject to stringent visa controls but the White House gave no official reason as to why this was the case.
“First of all, can you explain to us why Sudan was removed?” a reporter asked President Trump during a press briefing.
“And second of all, how does the travel ban work in North Korea that doesn’t allow their people out of their country?”
Mr Trump brazenly dodged the question, saying: “Well, the people – yeah, the people allowed – certain countries – but we can add countries very easily and we can take countries away”.
When pressed about what Sudan did “right” to be exempt, the world leader again sidestepped the line of questioning.
He said: “And as far as the travel ban is concerned, whatever it is, I want the toughest travel ban you can have. So I’ll see you in Indiana. We’re going to go over some more points that have not been talked about. Are you all going? Is everyone going?”
The president’s proclamation said the Department of Homeland Security’s vetting review led to some “improvements” and “positive results” in certain countries but failed to provide any specific detail of why Sudan had suddenly been made exempt.
The north-east African country was one of the six Muslim-majority nations, also including Iran, Syria, Libya, Yemen, and Somalia – whose citizens were blocked from entering the US under the previous travel ban which expired on Sunday.
Administration sources attributed the decision to drop Sudan from the ban to the country’s co-operation with the American government on national security and information-sharing, the Washington Post reported.
Nevertheless, others have suggested the choice was in fact politically motivated. Ryan Grim, Washington bureau chief at The Intercept, wrote on Twitter: “Sudan getting dropped from the travel ban comes as the UAE has been lobbying hard for them in DC in exchange for mercenary support in Yemen”.
Sudan has supplied thousands of troops to support the Saudi-led coalition, also including the United Arab Emirates and other Middle Eastern countries, to help fight Houthi rebels in Yemen’s civil war. America also provided “logistical support” to the coalition.
Sudan continues to be one of three countries, including Iran and Syria, classed by the US government as a state which sponsors terrorism.
In contrast to the president’s original bans, which had time limits, the new one is open-ended. The new restrictions are set to start taking effect on 18 October and resulted from a review after President Trump’s original travel bans prompted chaos in airports, international fury and legal challenges.
Shortly after the proclamation was released, Mr Trump wrote on Twitter: “Making America Safe is my number one priority. We will not admit those into our country we cannot safely vet”.
The decision to include North Korea and Venezuela in the list widens the stringent limits from the original, predominantly Muslim-majority list. Some have speculated whether this is an explicit attempt to make the ban appear less clearly targeted.
Amnesty International USA condemned the measures in a statement: “Just because the original ban was especially outrageous does not mean we should stand for yet another version of government-sanctioned discrimination.
“It is senseless and cruel to ban whole nationalities of people who are often fleeing the very same violence that the US government wishes to keep out. This must not be normalised.”
Officials said that instead of a total ban on entry to the United States, the proposed restrictions vary according to nation, based on cooperation with American security mandates, the threat the US believes each country presents and other variables at play. For example, only certain government officials from Venezuela will be banned.
Experts said the new restrictions could be less susceptible to legal attack because the ban is the consequence of a month-long analysis of foreign vetting procedures by US officials and may be less straightforwardly linked to President Trump’s barbed attacks on Muslims during his presidential campaign.
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