Simon Ateba covers the White House, the U.S. government, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and other financial and international institutions for Today News Africa in Washington D.C. Simon can be reached on firstname.lastname@example.org
United States House of Representatives member Karen Bass (D-Calif.), Chair of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa, on Friday, sent a letter to President Donald Trump urging him to reconsider adding Sudan to the administration’s travel ban.
The Congress members said the United States recently took meaningful steps to strengthen the U.S.-Sudan bilateral relationship, and the travel ban “would send the wrong message at this critical time in Sudan’s transition to a civilian-led government”.
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“We urge you to take Sudan off the list as it will negatively impact Sudan’s path toward democracy and peace,” they added.
Read full letter below as received by TODAY NEWS AFRICA in Washington, D.C.
January 24, 2020
President Donald J. Trump
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, D.C. 20500
Dear Mr. President:
We are deeply concerned by reports that your administration is expected to formally announce the addition of Sudan to its travel ban next week. The United States recently took meaningful steps to strengthen the U.S.-Sudan bilateral relationship and this would send the wrong message at this critical time in Sudan’s transition to a civilian-led government. We urge you to take Sudan off the list as it will negatively impact Sudan’s path toward democracy and peace.
Following the ouster of the Omar al-Bashir regime, Sudan has made significant progress toward a more inclusive and representative government. We are currently on a Congressional Delegation in Sudan and have been encouraged by meetings with the Prime Minister, Foreign Minister, Minister of Justice, and civil society. In each of these meetings we learned about the many steps the transitional government has taken to break with the policies and practices of the previous regime and plans being put into place for additional reforms. While we recognize that this is a work in progress, Sudan has taken important steps to combat terrorism and to prevent the movement of bad actors.
Additional travel restrictions from Sudan would send the wrong message to the Sudanese government, to the Sudanese people, and to the rest of the world. We encourage the administration to continue supporting Sudan on its path toward democracy and peace.
President Trump on Wednesday confirmed he would be extending travel bans on additional countries.
“Our country has to be safe,” Mr. Trump said at a news conference at the World Economic Forum in Davos.
President Trump is expected to issue the executive order on the travel ban on Monday.
He is planning to place a travel ban on Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country, as well as Sudan, Tanzania and Eritrea. Other countries to be affected are the Asian nations of Kyrgyzstan and Myanmar as well as the European country of Belarus.
The Washington Post added that “the administration plans to roll out its expanded travel restrictions on Monday, marking the three-year anniversary of the initial travel ban Mr. Trump signed on his seventh day in office”.
Politico, which first reported the planned travel ban, said a draft being considered by the Trump administration would place immigration restrictions on the seven countries, but not necessarily completely ban all citizens of those nations from entering the United States.
The restrictions could apply only to certain government officials, for instance, or certain types of visas, the newspaper said.
It was not clear what the reason for the ban was, and White House spokesman Hogan Gidley did not provide details about plans to expand the travel ban, but defended the original order.
“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 U.S. immigration programs, 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.”
Trump signed the original travel ban on Jan. 27, 2017, about seven days into his tenure.
In that order, the Trump administration said the policy restricting travel was necessary to prevent potential acts of terrorism, explaining that countries on the list did not adequately vet their travelers to the U.S.
The 2017 order initially denied visas to citizens of seven majority-Muslim countries, but was later modified following outrage and court challenges.
Politico noted that “the countries under consideration for the expanded travel ban include some that have either had solid relationships with the U.S., or which the U.S. has courted”.