WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump is weighing the next steps of his controversial travel ban — a move that could include restrictions on travelers from additional countries.
Trump’s ban on visitors from six Muslim-majority nations is set to expire this coming Sunday, 90 days after it took effect.
The Wall Street Journal first reported Friday that the administration is preparing to announce new, more targeted restrictions that would affect citizens of more countries than those included in the president’s March 6 executive order. The restrictions would vary by country, and could include less drastic measures such as additional background checks, the paper said.
The Department of Homeland Security submitted its recommendations to the White House late last week, according to DHS spokesman David Lapan. The president is expected to sign a proclamation announcing the changes in the coming days.
“The president’s lawful executive order was designed to protect our homeland from foreign terrorists,” the White House said in a statement. “The Trump administration will ensure we only admit those who can be properly vetted and will not pose a threat to national security or public safety.”
Trump’s ban, which went into effect in June following a round of legal challenges, has applied to citizens of Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen who lacked a “credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States.”
Trump National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster said Sunday that the president was weighing new restrictions in an effort to keep the American people safe.
“Well, this is something that we’re looking at, is how to protect the American people better, how to ensure that we know who these people are who are moving,” he said in an interview with ABC.
If “you can’t screen people effectively to know who’s coming into your country, then you shouldn’t allow people from that country to travel,” he said.
Trump had originally tried to ban the entry of nationals from seven countries, including Iraq, in a January executive order that sparked protests, chaos at airports and a flurry of legal challenges. Amid the backlash, Trump issued a second, narrower order, which he later derided as a “watered down, politically correct version” in a tweet.
After a bomb partially exploded on a London subway last week, Trump once again called for a “tougher” ban.
“The travel ban into the United States should be far larger, tougher and more specific — but stupidly, that would not be politically correct!” he wrote on Twitter.
The administration has argued the ban was necessary to give them time to complete a thorough review of screening procedures and information sharing to make sure that those who enter the country don’t pose a safety risk. Critics accuse the president of overstepping his authority and targeting Muslims.
The Supreme Court is set to hear oral argument on the constitutionality of the order next month.