Reason Roundup

7 More Countries From Which Trump Wants to Ban Immigrants and Visitors

Plus: Kobe Bryant, school choice week, John Bolton's book, a FOSTA ruling, and more...


The Trump administration continues to chip away at America's immigration system. Its 2017 order banning travel to the U.S. from several Middle Eastern countries will once again face challenges in federal court this week, but President Donald Trump and company nonetheless plan to expand the ban to more countries.

The administration is reportedly looking to expand the ban to people coming from four African countries (Eritrea, Nigeria, Sudan, and Tanzania), two former Soviet republics (Belarus and Kyrgyzstan), and Myanmar.

"We're adding a couple of countries to it," Trump told reporters last week at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, adding that the announcement would coincide with the three-year anniversary of the original ban.

Few details are certain about how these new travel bans would apply. But experts are already criticizing the move, especially its application to Myanmar and Nigeria.

"Why? What's the rationale for this?" asked Rosaire Ifedi, a Nigerian immigrant and an education professor at Ohio's Ashland University, on WOSU. "Nigeria has been a friend with the United States, Nigeria is a partner with the United States in fighting terrorism and everything you can think of."

"Some of the countries [on the new list] are known for having high visa overstay rates," notes NPR, "but some of these countries also send many students to American colleges and universities, particularly historically black colleges and universities."

"Continued engagement with the Myanmar government is critical for the United States to have an answer to China's Belt and Road Initiative," argues Daniel O'Connor at The Diplomat. "By implementing this travel ban, the Trump administration would push Myanmar—a country looking to leverage its natural resources to drive exports—into a monopsony market, with China as the sole buyer."

At Forbes, Stuart Anderson explores how the initial travel ban has hampered reunification of families:

The administration's travel ban caused the number of Immediate Relatives of U.S. Citizens—the spouses, children and parents of Americans—who received permanent residence in America from the five majority-Muslim countries (Yemen, Iran, Libya, Somalia and Syria) to decline by 69% between FY 2016 and FY 2018, according to a National Foundation for American Policy analysis….In all, 10,544 fewer spouses, children and parents of U.S. citizens from these five countries were admitted to America in FY 2018, after the ban went into effect, compared to FY 2016….

The story is similar for Americans wishing to sponsor an adult child or sibling, or a lawful permanent resident sponsoring a spouse, child or unmarried adult child, from the five countries. Between FY 2016 and FY 2018, immigrants in family-sponsored preference categories decreased by 3,703, or 91%, from Yemen, by 72% from Iran, by 35% from Libya, by 37% from Somalia, and by 62% from Syria.

The Trump administration can show little evidence "that preventing American citizens from living with a spouse, child or other close relative improves safety in America," Anderson adds.

On Tuesday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit will consider three lawsuits claiming the original ban—which applied to people from Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen—is rooted in anti-Muslim bias. The plaintiffs come from families of people forbidden from entry into the U.S. They are not currently seeking a ruling on the merits of that claim per se; right now the issue is whether their cases can move forward to the legal discovery phase.

The Justice Department argues that the Supreme Court's 2018 ruling on the matter—which said the original ban could be credibly tied to national security, at least for five of the countries—should be the final word.


Reporter suspended for Kobe Bryant tweet. Basketball star Kobe Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter, and several others were killed yesterday in a helicopter crash. When news of Bryant's death broke, Washington Post reporter Felicia Sonmez tweeted a link to a story about Bryant being accused of rape. "Any public figure is worth remembering in their totality even if that public figure is beloved and that totality unsettling," she subsequently said.

The Post responded by suspending Sonmez. A spokesperson said the Post is looking into whether she violated the paper's social media policy by sharing a screenshot of the critical emails she was getting.


Happy School Choice Week!


  • John Bolton's book about his time in the Trump administration is scheduled for a March 17 release. The manuscript has already been leaked to The New York Times.

  • In the latest movie adaptation of Little Women, Jo March "listens to markets, not just morals," writes Sarah Skwire.
  • Good news on FOSTA: