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US travel ban could be expanded

Saturday, September 23, 2017

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WASHINGTON, United States (AP) — President Donald Trump is weighing the next iteration of his controversial travel ban, which could include new restrictions on travellers from additional countries.

Trump's ban on visitors from six Muslim-majority nations is set to expire tomorrow, 90 days after it took effect.

The Department of Homeland Security has recommended the president impose new, more targeted restrictions to replace the blanket ban imposed in the March 6 executive order. The restrictions could vary by country, officials said.

“The acting secretary has recommended actions that are tough and that are tailored, including restrictions and enhanced screening for certain countries,” Miles Taylor, counsellor to the secretary of Department of Homeland Security, told reporters in a conference call yesterday.

Officials refused to say how many countries — and which countries — might be affected, insisting the president had yet to make a final decision on how to proceed.

The president is expected to sign a proclamation codifying the changes once he's made a decision. The recommendations were first reported by the Wall Street Journal yesterday.

Trump's ban, which went into effect in June following a round of legal challenges, has applied to 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”.

HR McMaster, Trump's national security adviser, said Sunday that the president was weighing new restrictions in an effort to keep the American people safe.

“Well, this is something that we're looking at, is how to protect the American people better, how to ensure that we know who these people are who are moving,” he said in an interview with ABC.

“If you can't screen people effectively to know who's coming into your country, then you shouldn't allow people from that country to travel,” he said.

Trump had originally tried to ban the entry of nationals from seven countries, including Iraq, in a January executive order that sparked protests, chaos at airports, and a flurry of legal challenges. Amid the backlash, Trump issued a second, narrower order, which he later derided as a “watered-down, politically correct version”.

After a bomb partially exploded on a London subway last week, Trump once again called for a tougher ban.

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

The Administration has argued the ban was necessary to give it time to complete a thorough review of screening procedures and information-sharing to make sure that those who enter the country don't pose a safety risk. Critics accuse the president of overstepping his authority and targeting Muslims.

The Supreme Court is set to hear oral argument on the constitutionality of the order next month.

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