Donald Trump has slapped new travel restrictions on citizens from North Korea, Venezuela and Chad, expanding to eight the list of countries covered by his original travel bans that have been derided by critics and challenged in court.
Iran, Libya, Syria, Yemen and Somalia were left on the list of affected countries in a new proclamation issued by the president on Sunday. Restrictions on citizens from Sudan were lifted.
The measures help fulfil a campaign promise Mr Trump made to make it harder to migrate to the US. Unlike the president’s original bans, which had time limits, this one is open-ended.
“Making America Safe is my number one priority. We will not admit those into our country we cannot safely vet,” Mr Trump tweeted shortly after the proclamation was released.
Iraqi citizens will not be subject to travel prohibitions but will face enhanced scrutiny or vetting.
The current ban, enacted in March, was set to expire on Sunday evening. The new restrictions are due to take effect on October 18 and resulted from a review after Trump’s original travel bans sparked international outrage and legal challenges.
The addition of North Korea and Venezuela broadens the restrictions from the original, mostly Muslim-majority list.
Critics have accused the Republican president of discriminating against Muslims in violation of constitutional guarantees of religious liberty and equal protection under the law, breaking existing US immigration law and stoking religious hatred.
The American Civil Liberties Union, which is one of the organisations challenging Mr Trump’s original travel ban, described it as a new “Muslim ban” – a description the president has rejected – adding the addition of North Korea did not change that.
ACLU executive director Anthony D Romero said: “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.
“President Trump’s original sin of targeting Muslims cannot be cured by throwing other countries onto his enemies list.”
An administration official, briefing reporters on a conference call, acknowledged that the number of North Koreans now travelling to the United States was very low.
Rights group Amnesty International USA also condemned the measures.
“Just because the original ban was especially outrageous does not mean we should stand for yet…