- Travel Restriction May Take Effect Soon
By Hamilton Nwosa (Head, The New Diplomat Business Desk)
United States President Donald Trump is weighing signing an Executive Order in the coming days that would expand visa ban and travel restrictions on seven countries, including Nigeria. The list of affected countries are Belarus, Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan, Myanmar, Nigeria, Sudan and Tanzania. This measure is coming three years after the Trump administration’s first Executive Order which banned seven countries with Muslim nations in the majority. The countries in the original list are Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen along with Venezuela and North Korea.
The prestigious Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reports that the Trump administration might not place full visa and travel bans on these countries as both the ban and travel restrictions may be specific on certain types of visas, especially the business and visitor visa commonly known as B1|B2 visa as well as certain categories of government officials, among others. The WSJ further reports that Trump is expected to announce the expanded travel ban on Monday as his administration turns three years in Office.
It would be recalled that after the first Executive Order, the Trump administration issued a second travel ban in March 2017, and a third in September, 2017. The travel bans which were initially blocked by two appeal courts orders were, however upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court after a slew of litigations. Trump had in an interview with The Wall Street Journal(WSJ) from Davos confirmed yesterday that he is planning to add more countries to the travel ban into the United States but declined to list the specific countries or give specifics as to the criteria for arriving at these designated countries.
Another U.S. newspaper Politico yesterday quoted White House Spokesman Hogan Gidley as saying that “the travel ban has been profoundly successful in protecting our(US) country and raising the security baseline around the world.” The newspaper further quoted him as adding: “ While there are no new announcements at this time, 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 because we do not want to import terrorism or any other national security threat into the United States.”
The Politico also reported acting United States Homeland Security Secretary, Chad Wolf as saying travel restrictions become necessary to help mitigate threats arising from failure on the part of a number of countries to meet certain criteria or lack the will and capability to confirm with identified criteria. “For a small number of countries that lack either the will or the capability to adhere to these criteria, travel restrictions may become necessary to mitigate threats.”, Wolf was quoted as saying. He was reported to have made the remarks at a Homeland Security Experts Group Event on how the U.S. was creating criteria for foreign governments to help vet foreign nationals seeking to enter into the United States.
Reports say some of the additional seven countries being considered for the expanded visa ban include countries that have strong and historical bi-lateral relations with the United States. For instance, Nigeria is said to be a United States strategic partner, as the most populous country in Africa, coupled with a huge Nigerian diasporan community in the United States with the result that Nigerian-Americans are among several US citizens excelling in key sectors such Medicine, Law, Academia, Business, Public Policy, etc. This is quite unlike the case of Sudan which has had poor relations with the U.S. But following the ousting of Sudan’s long-standing leader , Omar al-Bashir from power, the country’s new leadership is said to have been making frantic efforts to improve her bi-lateral relations with the United States. It is not clear how far they have gone.
The New Diplomat‘s attempts to reach Nigeria’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Geoffrey Onyema were unsuccessful. Repeated calls to his cell number were neither answered nor returned.