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Trump slaps four African countries with travel ban in latest crackdown against Muslims

By East Africa correspondent , Garowe Online

WASHINGTON - Four African nations have been piled on President Donald Trump's travel restrictions, an official has said, a move that further discredits US foreign policy.

Since taking over in 2017, Trump's attitude towards immigrants has caused divisions within the US, although Republicans have often defended him.

Already, seven nations with substantive Muslim population had fallen into Trump's retrogressive approach, which outrightly discriminates Islamic religion.

The US president has often linked terrorism with Islamic countries and believes travel bans will make America more secure, critics say.

Muslim countries targeted

Chad Wolf, the acting Secretary of Homeland Security, confirmed the crackdown which targeted Nigeria, Eritrea, Sudan, and Tanzania.

Both Sudan and Nigeria have a fairly dominant Muslim population while Tanzania and Eritrea have Muslim minorities.

The travel ban restricts Eritreans and Nigerians from getting permanent residency visas, the official said, adding that "they didn't meet minimum requirements".

Nonimmigrant visas were not affected by the additional countries, Wolf said. Those visas are given to people traveling to the US for a temporary stay.

Diversity visas affected

They include visas for tourists, those doing business or people seeking medical treatment.

For Sudan and Tanzania, they will cease getting diversity visas, a move that primarily regulates movement to the United States.

The US government will, therefore, stop issuing "diversity visas" to nationals of Sudan and Tanzania, he added.

Those visas - which Trump has criticized in the past - are available by lottery for applicants from countries with low rates of immigration to the US.

Why Trump is keen with a crackdown

Wolf cited issues ranging from subpar passport technology to a failure to sufficiently exchange information on "terrorism" suspects and criminals as the motivation factor.

"These countries, for the most part, want to be helpful," Wolf said, "but for a variety of different reasons simply failed to meet those minimum requirements that we laid out."

The existing version of the ban includes the Muslim-majority nations of Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen. They were issued due to terrorism-related activities.

North Korea and Venezuela also face visa restrictions, but those measures affect relatively few travelers, State Department said.

Crackdown criticized in America

Ilhan Omar, the Democratic Rep, said she introduced legislation that would repeal a 1798 law that allows the US president to target groups of foreign nationals.

"It's past time to take this xenophobic law off the books," Omar tweeted, announcing the Neighbors Not Enemies Act.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) said the ban should be "ended, not expanded".

"President Trump is doubling down on his signature anti-Muslim policy - and using the ban as a way to put even more of his prejudices into practice by excluding more communities of color," Omar Jadwat, director of the ACLU's Immigrants' Rights Project, said in a statement.

"Families, universities, and businesses in the United States are paying an ever-higher price for President Trump's ignorance and racism."

Trump is seeking re-election in 2020 but he's facing resistance with critics accusing him of creating "divisions and discord" within America.


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