Trump replaces travel ban with new restrictions

(AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

UPDATE:  WASHINGTON (AP) — Citizens of more than half a dozen countries will face new restrictions on entry to the U.S. under a proclamation signed by President Donald Trump on Sunday that will replace his expiring travel ban.

The new rules, which will impact the citizens of Chad, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen — and some from Venezuela — will go into effect on October 18.

The restrictions range from an indefinite ban on visas for citizens of countries like Syria to more targeted restrictions. A suspension of non-immigrant visas to citizens for Venezuela, for instance, will apply only to certain government officials and their immediate families.

The announcement comes the same day as Trump’s temporary ban on visitors from six Muslim-majority countries was set to expire 90 days after it went into effect. That ban had barred citizens of Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen who lacked a “credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States” from entering the U.S. Only one of those countries, Sudan, will no longer be subject to travel restrictions.

“Making America Safe is my number one priority. We will not admit those into our country we cannot safely vet,” Trump tweeted late Sunday after the new policy was announced.

Unlike the first iteration of Trump’s travel ban, which sparked chaos at airports across the country and a flurry of legal challenges after being hastily written with little input outside the White House, officials stressed they had been working for months on the new rules, in collaboration with various agencies and in conversation with foreign governments.

To limit confusion, valid visas would not be revoked as a result of the proclamation. The order also permits, but does not guarantee, case-by-case waivers for citizens of the affected countries who meet certain criteria.

That includes: having previously worked or studied in the U.S.; having previously established “significant contacts” in the U.S.; and having “significant business or professional obligations” in the U.S. Still, officials acknowledged the waiver restrictions were narrower than the exemptions for people with bona fide ties to the United States that the Supreme Court mandated before the expiring order went into effect in late June.

The restrictions are targeted at countries that the Department of Homeland Security says fail to share sufficient information with the U.S. or haven’t taken necessary security precautions.

ORIGINAL: President Donald Trump is expected to announce new restrictions on travel to the United States as his ban on visitors from six Muslim-majority countries expires Sunday, 90 days after it went into effect.

The Department of Homeland Security has recommended the president sign off on new, more targeted restrictions on foreign nationals from countries it says refuse to share information with the U.S. or haven’t taken necessary security precautions.

Officials haven’t said which — or how many — countries will be affected by the new restrictions, which could take effect as soon as Sunday.

“The acting secretary has recommended actions that are tough and that are tailored, including restrictions and enhanced screening for certain countries,” said Miles Taylor, counselor to acting Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke.

The current ban bars citizens of Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen who lack a “credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States” from entering the U.S.

Unlike Trump’s first travel ban, which sparked chaos at airports across the country and a flurry of legal challenges, officials said they have been working for months on the new rules, in collaboration with various agencies and in conversation with foreign governments.

The recommendations are based on a new baseline developed by DHS that includes factors such as whether countries issue electronic passports with biometric information and share information about travelers’ terror-related and criminal histories. The U.S. then shared those benchmarks with every country in the world and gave them 50 days to comply.

The citizens of countries that refused could now face travel restrictions and more stringent screening measures that would last indefinitely, until their governments complied.

Trump last week called for a “tougher” travel ban after a bomb partially exploded on a London subway.

“The travel ban into the United States should be far larger, tougher and more specific-but stupidly, that would not be politically correct!” he tweeted.

Critics have accused the president of overstepping his authority and violating the U.S. Constitution’s protections against religious bias. Trump had called for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States” during his campaign.

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