Donald Trump is planning to add seven countries to his US travel ban, including Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation, according to reports.
The president told the Wall Street Journal in an interview from Davos, Switzerland, that he wants to extend the controversial ban, but declined to name the countries to be added to the list.
The Paper and Politico both reported that the countries likely to be targeted are Nigeria, Sudan, Belarus, Myanmar, Tanzania, Kyrgyzstan and Eritrea.
An announcement may come as soon as Monday, on the third anniversary of the introduction of the original ban that targeted majority-Muslim countries.
New rules impacting those countries may not take the form of a blanket ban on travel to the US, but could include restrictions on government officials or certain types of visas.
White House spokesman Hogan Gidley would not confirm the plan. He praised the current travel ban for making the country safer.
“The travel ban has been profoundly successful in protecting our country and raising the security baseline around the world,” he said.
“While there are no new announcements at this time, common sense and national security both dictate that if a country wants to fully participate in US immigration programmes, they should also comply with all security and counter-terrorism measures — because we do not want to import terrorism or any other national security threat into the United States.”
The original travel ban denied visas to citizens of seven countries, though it went through a series of legal challenges that forced modifications.
The current version restricts travel to the US for some citizens from majority-Muslim nations Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen, in addition to North Korea and Venezuela.
Chad was removed from the list in April 2018 following improvements to “identity management and information sharing practices sufficiently to meet the baseline security standard of the United States,” according to a statement from the White House at the time.
The inclusion of Chad in the original list was seen as surprising as it has a long history of cooperation with the US, unlike the other the nations named in 2017.
Similarly, the countries that might be added to the travel ban in 2020 include nations that cooperate with the US on issues such as counter-terrorism or that are being courted for closer relations.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was scheduled to visit Belarus at the start of the year, but had to cancel his trip due to tensions with Iran, and Washington has been keen to draw Myanmar away from China’s sphere of influence.
Nigeria is not only a counter-terrorism partner, but there is also a large Nigerian community within the US.
Immigration was a central theme of President Trump’s 2016 election campaign, and is likely to feature again in this year’s re-election campaign.