New York, NY, January 31, 2020 — The International Rescue Committee (IRC) responds today to reports of the Trump Administration’s policy decision to expand the Travel Ban. The IRC fears this new expansion of the ban will block family members from reuniting with their loved ones in the United States.
“The Travel Ban - in all its forms - has needlessly kept families separated by blocking access to tourist, business, and immigration visas. There is no evidence that individuals traveling from these countries present higher security risks,” said Olga Byrne, Director of U.S. Immigration for the International Rescue Committee. “From the first iteration of the Travel and the Refugee Ban to the administration’s ‘Zero Tolerance’ and ‘Remain in Mexico’ policies - the IRC has been serving separated families and other vulnerable groups that have borne the brunt of the Trump administration’s harmful policies.”
The previous iteration of the Travel Ban -- the Trump Administration’s third attempt to craft a ban that would stand up in court -- was issued in September 2017. It suspended immigrant and non-immigrant visas for citizens of the affected countries (Yemen, Somalia, Syria, Iran, North Korea, Venezuela, and Libya). Over the last three years since the ban was in place, the IRC served countless families of U.S. citizens, lawful permanent residents, refugees, asylees and other lawfully admitted immigrants who have been forced to remain separated from their loved ones.
Reports suggest the new policy adds nationals from Myanmar, Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan, and Nigeria to the existing list of those barred from applying for immigrant visas, as well as blocking nationals of Sudan and Tanzania from the diversity visa lottery. The IRC provides legal services for immigration purposes to 15,000 individuals each year in the U.S. and has observed first-hand the devastating impact of prolonged family separation. The IRC has also observed the nearly insurmountable challenges to overcoming the Travel Ban through the case-by-case waiver process.
This iteration of the Travel Ban is just the latest in a series of policy decisions that breaks with American tradition of keeping families together. Congress must pass the NO BAN Act (H.R.2214/S.1123) to prevent travel, refugee and asylum bans that cruelly and unnecessarily separate families.