Immigrant advocates and rights groups on Friday slammed the expansion of US President Donald Trump’s controversial travel ban, saying it weaponises “immigration law to advance [the administration’s] xenophobic agenda”.
The expanded version of the travel ban targets prospective immigrants from six additional countries: Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan, Myanmar, Nigeria, Sudan and Tanzania.
Under the proclamation, which will take effect on February 21, the United States will suspend the issuance of visas that can lead to permanent residency for nationals of Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan, Myanmar and Nigeria, acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf said during a call with reporters on Friday. The visas affected are distinct from non-immigrant visitor visas, which will not be impacted by the ban, Wolf said.
The US government will stop issuing “diversity visas” to nationals of Sudan and Tanzania, Wolf said. The visas – which Trump has criticised in the past – are available by lottery for applicants from countries with low rates of immigration to the US.
Rights groups decried Friday’s announcement, saying the “Trump administration continues to push white supremacist and exclusionary policies that discriminate on the basis of faith, national origin, and immigration status”.
“From scapegoating Muslims with the Muslim Ban to now expanding the same restrictions to other immigrant communities of colour, the Trump administration continues to weaponize immigration law in order to advance its xenophobic agenda,” said Javeria Jamil, a state lawyer at the National Security & Civil Rights of Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Asian Law Caucus.