U.S. President Donald Trump has expanded his controversial travel ban to include two new countries, while also removing one Muslim-majority country from the list.
Citizens from North Korea, Venezuela and Chad are now blocked from entering the U.S. under new restrictions put down by the Trump administration, coming into effect on Oct. 18, according to The Guardian.
At the same time, Sudan has been removed from the list of banned countries.
Trump's 'Muslim ban'
The original travel ban targeted citizens of seven Muslim majority countries: Somalia, Yemen, Syria, Iraq, Libya, Iran, and Sudan.
After the ban was overturned in U.S. courts, a revised ban was released, dropping Iraq from the list. The Iraqi government had protested the initial order, pointing out that its military was on the front lines of fighting terrorists alongside the U.S.
While the follow-up executive order was also temporarily blocked, a watered-down version was eventually approved to move forward by the U.S. Supreme Court, pending a full review.
The new restrictions, just issued by Trump, slap the blanket ban on North Korea and Chad, but only targets some Venezuelan government officials and their family members. In total, the citizens of eight countries are now blocked from entering the U.S.
While Sudanese citizens will not be under any direct ban, they will still face "additional scrutiny" before entry to the U.S. is granted.
The new ban is still 'discrimination'
Trump's controversial travel ban has faced immense criticism and condemnation from many politicians, business leaders, activists and ordinary American citizens. The measure was initially seen as directly targeting Muslim immigrants, particularly because Trump previously called for a “total and complete shutdown” of Muslims entering the country.
Although Chad's population is believed to be slightly more than 50 percent Muslim, Venezuela is less than 1 percent Muslim and North Korea has extremely limited religious freedom, with a historically Buddhist population.
Experts are suggesting that the addition of non-Muslim majority countries will affect the outcome of the still-pending case against the travel ban. At the same time, rights groups are saying that this doesn't change anything, as they see the new restrictions as further discrimination.
“Just because the original ban was especially outrageous does not mean we should stand for yet another version of government-sanctioned discrimination. It is senseless and cruel to ban whole nationalities of people who are often fleeing the very same violence that the US government wishes to keep out,” Naureen Shah, senior campaigns director for Amnesty International USA, said in a statement.