Home/Daniel Larison/Trump Expands the Cruel, Unnecessary Travel Ban

Trump Expands the Cruel, Unnecessary Travel Ban

(Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

The president arbitrarily expanded the unnecessary travel ban on Friday to include six more countries, including the most populous country in Africa:

President Trump on Friday added six countries to his list of nations facing stringent travel restrictions, a move that will virtually block immigration from Africa’s most populous nation, Nigeria, and from Myanmar, where the Muslim minority is fleeing genocide.

Beside Nigeria, three other African countries, Eritrea, Sudan and Tanzania, will face varying degrees of restrictions, as will one former Soviet state, Kyrgyzstan. Myanmar’s Rohingya Muslims could also be caught in the crossfire.

All six countries have substantial Muslim populations. The total number of countries now on the restricted travel list stands at 13.

There is no legitimate security reason for such sweeping restrictions, and the new list seems like a grab-bag of countries that have large Muslim populations with nothing else linking them together. Like previous versions of the ban, this is an attempt to use phony national security justifications to make changes to immigration policy that Congress wouldn’t approve. In the cases of Myanmar and Eritrea, the U.S. shouldn’t be throwing up more obstacles in front of people trying to escape from these abusive governments. The Nigerian diaspora in the U.S. happens to be one of the most successful communities in the country, and this will cause unnecessary hardship and problems for many thousands of families for no good reason. Needless to say, adding these countries to the travel ban can only damage U.S. relations with all of them.

Sam Hill criticizes Nigeria’s inclusion on the list:

There’s scant evidence Nigeria poses a security risk to the U.S. “This is a big mistake. Why would Nigeria be on the list? It doesn’t have a history of terrorism against the U.S. There’s been one incident a long time ago. Nigeria is not even close to being a terrorist threat,” says Dr. Christopher Okunseri, President-elect, Association of Nigerian Physicians in the Americas. He’s right. While Nigeria has a significant problem with Islamic terrorism inside the country, it has not exported it. Nor have its citizens carried out terrorist attacks inside the U.S., unlike some countries not on the list, like Saudi Arabia.

The same could be said of the other countries on the list. The security justification for these restrictions doesn’t exist, and it is being used to exploit loopholes in the law. As a matter of immigration policy, blocking immigration from Nigeria doesn’t make sense, either. Nigerian immigrants have had great success in the U.S. and are exactly the sort of productive, well-educated people that the U.S. should want to have coming here:

Nigerians are the immigrants America should be trying to attract. In 2015 the Migration Policy Institute took an in-depth look at the roughly 400,000 Nigerian-Americans. They found Nigerians are the best educated of 15 groups analyzed by the Rockefeller-Aspen Institute Diaspora Program. 37 percent of first and second-generation Nigerians have undergraduate degrees, almost twice the U.S. average. Almost three times as many have advanced degrees. They’re more likely to work in professional and managerial professions. 83 percent are of working age and 73 percent are likely to be in the workforce, with 88 percent of those employed.

The entire expanded travel ban needs to be ended as soon as possible. Rescinding this ban should be one of the first things that the next administration does.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

leave a comment

Latest Articles