Donald Trump took a break from tweeting about sports teams on Sunday to issue a new travel ban on an expanded list of seven countries, just as the previous, widely-detested order was on the brink of expiring.
The revised policy will deny visas to citizens of Chad, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria and Yemen beginning October 18, and restrictions will be added for visiting Iraqis and “some groups of people” in Venezuela, the New York Times reports. Sudan, which was previously included, was the only country to be dropped.
The strength of the restrictions will vary by country. For Venezuela, tourist and business visas will be suspended only for security officials and their families. On the flip side, nearly all North Koreans will be banned, excepting those with diplomatic visas or anyone granted asylum.
An administration official who briefed reporters Sunday said the addition of North Korea and Venezuela were certainly not intended to make the policy appear less like a Muslim ban, but it’s unclear who that’s convincing.
“Six of President Trump’s targeted countries are Muslim,” ACLU Executive Director Anthony Romero said in a statement. “The fact that Trump has added North Korea—with few visitors to the U.S.—and a few government officials from Venezuela doesn’t obfuscate the real fact that the administration’s order is still a Muslim ban.”
On September 15, Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Elaine Duke sent Trump a report offering her suggestions on how to handle countries not complying with U.S. counterterrorism strategies. Senior officials met Friday to discuss the issue, but there was no indication heading into the weekend that a revised ban would be put in place.
The release announcing the new order is intentionally short on rationale, saying that “Section 2 of this proclamation describes some of the inadequacies that led me to impose restrictions on the specified countries. Describing all of those reasons publicly, however, would cause serious damage to the national security of the United States, and many such descriptions are classified.”
Officials said the rules will not apply to legal permanent residents of the United States, and that visitors holding valid visas from the listed countries will not have their visas revoked.
Trump’s original order, in which the State Department suspended visa applications from the six Muslim-majority countries while the government conducted a 90-day review, would have expired tonight.