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United States: New Travel Bans Do Not Serve American Interests
In response to the US government placing blanket restrictions on visa applicants from Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan, Myanmar, Nigeria, Sudan, and Tanzania, Freedom House issued the following statement:
“The imposition of blanket visa bans for entire countries represents a failure to live up to American ideals and human rights norms,” said Mike Abramowitz, president of Freedom House.
“The US government has offered scant justification for adding these countries to the existing ‘travel ban’ list,” Abramowitz continued. “The move runs counter to American interests and disproportionately targets Africa for no apparent reason. Immigrants from Nigeria, the continent’s most populous country and its largest economy, make vital contributions to the US economy and culture, as do newcomers from the other countries affected. The inclusion of Sudan is in contradiction to all the progress that country and its brave citizens are making toward democracy after decades of authoritarian rule. We urge the administration to immediately reverse this decision and to accept immigrants to the United States according to standards that do not discriminate based on religion, national origin, or other unjustifiable factors.”
On Friday, the US government added six countries with substantial Muslim populations to the list of nations subject to tight travel restrictions, bringing the total to 13. Four of the new countries—Eritrea, Nigeria, Sudan, and Tanzania—are African. The others are Kyrgyzstan, a former Soviet state in Central Asia, and Myanmar, a country in Southeast Asia where the Rohingya Muslim minority remains at risk of genocide. The seven countries already listed are Iran, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Venezuela, and North Korea; all but the last two have Muslim-majority populations.
Freedom House is an independent watchdog organization that supports democratic change, monitors the status of freedom around the world, and advocates for democracy and human rights.