The White House may dramatically expand its much-litigated travel ban amid a renewed election-year focus on immigration by President Donald Trump, the Associated Press reports. 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. The countries that would be affected if it moves forward are blacked out. It’s unclear exactly how many countries would be included in the expansion if it proceeds, but sources said 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.
The expansion could include several countries that were covered in the first version of Trump’s ban, but later removed amid rounds of contentious litigation. Iraq, Sudan and Chad 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, who floated a banning all Muslims from entering the U.S. during his 2016 campaign, criticized his Justice Department for the changes, tweeting that DOJ “should have stayed with the original Travel Ban, not the watered down, politically correct version they submitted to S.C.” Countries on the proposed expansion list include allies that fall short on certain security measures. The additional restrictions were proposed by Department of Homeland Security officials after a review of security protocols and “identity management” for about 200 countries. Sources expect the announcement to be timed to coincide with the third anniversary of Trump’s first travel ban, which was announced without warning on Jan. 27, 2017. That order led to massive protests and chaos at airports where passengers were detained.
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