Trump says he'll add 'a few countries' to controversial U.S. travel ban

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President Trump discusses the planned travel ban extension Wednesday during a news conference at the 50th World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
President Trump announces that his administration will add more countries to its travel ban, saying the move is needed for national security. Trump discussed the plan Wednesday during a news conference at the 50th World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
Jonathan Ernst | Reuters

President Trump says he'll widen a controversial travel ban that prohibits nearly all people from seven countries from traveling or immigrating to the U.S., calling it "a very powerful ban" that's necessary to ensure national security.

"We're adding a couple of countries" to the ban, Trump said when asked about his policy shift at a news conference at the Davos World Economic Forum in Switzerland. He added, "We have to be safe. Our country has to be safe. You see what's going on in the world. Our country has to be safe."

According to The Wall Street Journal, which first reported on the White House plan to expand the ban, the Trump administration wants to double the scope of the ban by blacklisting seven more countries: Belarus, Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan, Myanmar, Nigeria, Sudan and Tanzania.

Trump did not share any more details about the ban's expansion, saying, "it's going to be announced very shortly."

When a reporter asked Trump about the plan to expand one of the signature pieces of his immigration policy, Trump criticized how the legal battles over the ban have been portrayed, emphasizing that after some losses in lower courts, the Supreme Court sided with him in 2018.

Trump signed the original version of the travel ban in his first week in office three years ago, triggering confusion and chaos in airports and legal challenges in federal courts.

The Supreme Court upheld the Trump administration's third version of the ban, which bars nearly all travelers from five majority-Muslim countries as well as North Korea and Venezuela.

The intense legal battles over the ban were resolved in 2018, when the Supreme Court backed Trump's assertion of presidential power under the Immigration and Nationality Act — the 1965 law that originally abolished the U.S. quota system that limited immigrants based on their national origin.

Before the high court upheld Trump's travel ban, federal courts had put two early iterations of the ban on hold after lawsuits accused them of discriminating against majority-Muslim nations. In court filings, challengers to the prohibition pointed to Trump's numerous negative comments about Islam as proof of bias.

After those setbacks, the Trump administration added North Korea and Venezuela to the travel ban list.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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