President Trump added to his travel ban this past Sunday before it was allowed to expire. In this version, Venezuela and North Korea were added to the existing countries of Chad, Iran, Libya, Somalia, and Yemen. If you’re thinking that adding two non-Muslim countries to the list where almost no one from either tries to enter the United States is odd, well, you are right. No matter how you slice up the new version of the travel ban, it’s still primarily focused on six predominantly Muslim countries.
On previous lists but now removed is the country of Sudan, but it’s probably coming with strings attached. Sudanese in the US have, or had, what is called temporary protected status (TPS). TPS was a program that was introduced by the Clinton administration but eliminated by the White House last week. The timing feels coincidental. Becca Heller, director of the International Refugee Assistance Project had this to say:
The government ended temporary protected status for Sudan, suggesting that the government of Sudan was pressured into agreeing to accept massive numbers of deported Sudanese nationals from the US in exchange for being dropped from the travel ban.
As you can imagine formerly protected Sudanese are now worried that deportation is in their near future. It will take days for journalists and lawyers to review the 6,500-word document released by the White House.
I think what President Trump right now has done is try to whitewash the Muslim ban by adding countries that are not Muslim-majority countries and it’s really unfortunate, because no matter how you clean the travel ban, as he calls it, it still smells and looks like a Muslim ban.
A response by many Muslim rights activist groups across the US are coordinating their response. Once the lawyers have reviewed the document, court filings are soon to follow which will ultimately involve the Supreme Court. The new ban is set to start on October 18th, at least, for now. If the rights groups can get their cases heard in time, this new ban may have the same fate as the previous bans.