White House Considering Expansion of Travel Ban

President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally, Thursday, Jan. 9, 2020, in Toledo, Ohio. (AP Photo/ Jacquelyn Martin)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House is considering dramatically expanding its much-litigated travel ban to additional countries amid a renewed election-year focus on immigration by President Donald Trump, according to six people familiar with the deliberations.

A document outlining the plans — timed to coincide with the third anniversary of Trump’s January 2017 executive order — has been circulating the White House. But the countries that would be affected are blacked out, according to two of the people, who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the measure has yet to be finalized.

It’s unclear exactly how many countries would be included in the expansion, but two of the people said that seven countries — a majority of them Muslim — would be added to the list. The most recent iteration of the ban includes restrictions on five majority-Muslim nations: Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen, as well as Venezuela and North Korea.

A different person said the expansion could focus on several countries that were included when Trump announced the first iteration of the ban but later removed amid rounds of contentious litigation. Iraq, Sudan and Chad, for instance, had originally been affected by the order, which the Supreme Court upheld in a 5-4 vote after the administration released a watered-down version intended to withstand legal scrutiny.

Trump later criticized his Justice Department for the changes.

The White House did not immediately respond to questions about the effort, which several of the people said was timed for release in conjunction with the third anniversary of Trump’s first travel ban. That order sparked an uproar when it was announced on Jan. 27, 2017, with massive protests across the nation and chaos at airports where passengers were detained.

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Source: Religion News Service