President Donald Trump issued a new travel ban Sunday that saw North Korea, Venezuela and Chad among a list of eight countries cited for poor security and lack of cooperation with US authorities.
Trump ordered the new restrictions to replace an expiring measure that had locked him into political and legal battles over what critics alleged was an effort to block Muslims from entry into the country since he took office in January.
“Making America Safe is my number one priority. We will not admit those into our country we cannot safely vet,” Trump said in a tweet.
Sudan, one of the six majority-Muslim countries on the original travel ban, was removed from the list. Under the new restrictions, eight nations now have complete or partial blocks on travel to the United States.
Full travel bans were placed on nationals from North Korea and Chad, while the restrictions for Venezuela were limited to officials from a long list of government agencies and their families.
Other countries included in the ban were Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen.
In a presidential order, Trump said the action was needed to press the countries to improve procedures for identifying their nationals and sharing information with the United States.
In addition, he said, the list was created to “advance foreign policy, national security and counterterrorism objectives.”
“These restrictions are both vital to national security and conditions-based, not time-based,” a senior administration official said, noting that countries can be removed from the list if they can rise to US traveller vetting standards.
Officials stressed that while Iraq was not included on the new list, it was deeply deficient in security vetting of immigrants and travellers to the United States.