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Trump Says He'll Add 'A Few Countries' To Controversial U.S. Travel Ban

President Trump discusses the planned travel ban extension Wednesday during a news conference at the 50th World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
Jonathan Ernst
President Trump discusses the planned travel ban extension Wednesday during a news conference at the 50th World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

Updated at 4:45 p.m. ET

President Trump says he plans to 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 told reporters at a news conference at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. "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," he said.

The new restrictions are expected to be announced on Monday, a source briefed on the plan told NPR. The scope of the restrictions will vary from country to country, but will apply to Nigeria, Sudan, Tanzania, Eritrea, Myanmar, Kyrgyzstan and Belarus, according to the source.

Further details were not immediately available. The Wall Street Journal first reported on Trump's plan to expand the ban.

White House spokesman Hogan Gidley declined to comment on any pending decisions but said the travel ban had been a success. "If a country wants to fully participate in U.S. immigration programs, they should also comply with all security and counterterrorism measures" required, Gidley said.

The ban was put in place by Presidential Proclamation 9645, titled "Enhancing Vetting Capabilities and Processes for Detecting Attempted Entry into the United States by Terrorists or other Public-Safety Threats."

The travel ban includes several criteria for the U.S. to evaluate foreign countries' security practices, including whether they issue secure "ePassports" (with biometric data on a computer chip) and how much information they share with the U.S.

Countries that are found to be "inadequate" are at risk of being hit by restrictions.

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 or immigrants from five majority-Muslim countries — Iran, Syria, Yemen, Libya and Somalia — as well as North Korea and Venezuela. The ban also originally included both Iraq and Sudan, but those countries were eventually removed from the restrictions.

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.

The Trump administration then added North Korea and Venezuela to the travel ban list. The restrictions on Venezuela apply mainly to members of government agencies and their families.

Editor's note: The Wall Street Journal first reported on President Trump's plan to expand the travel ban. Politico was the first to report the list of countries that might be added to the travel ban.

With additional reporting by NPR's Ayesha Rascoe

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit

Bill Chappell is a writer and editor on the News Desk in the heart of NPR's newsroom in Washington, D.C.
Franco Ordoñez is a White House Correspondent for NPR's Washington Desk. Before he came to NPR in 2019, Ordoñez covered the White House for McClatchy. He has also written about diplomatic affairs, foreign policy and immigration, and has been a correspondent in Cuba, Colombia, Mexico and Haiti.
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