The Trump administration late Sunday announced it is replacing its travel ban with a new proclamation barring visitors from eight countries, saying those nations are not doing enough to block terrorists from reaching the United States.
The new directive continues existing restrictions against Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen. And it adds new ones for Chad, North Korea and Venezuela, starting Oct. 18 and remaining in place indefinitely until they toughen their security procedures. Venezuela’s restrictions narrowly apply to that nation’s government officials – and their immediate relatives – who are responsible for traveler screening procedures.
“The travel ban: The tougher, the better,” President Donald Trump told reporters in Washington Sunday.
Signed Sunday, Trump’s proclamation could have a substantial impact on Atlanta, home to the world’s busiest airport as well as businesses and universities with international connections. With its popular tourist spots, plentiful jobs, affordable housing and mass transit, the Atlanta region has become a magnet for tourists and immigrants.
Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport officials said they were monitoring the situation. Operations at the airport appeared to be running smoothly early Sunday evening.
The first version of Trump’s travel ban — announced in January — sowed widespread confusion, triggered angry demonstrations in Atlanta and across the nation and ultimately stalled amid constitutional challenges. Trump replaced it in March with an order barring visitors from six Muslim-majority countries: Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.
It also halted this nation’s refugee resettlement program, leading to staffing and budget cuts at Atlanta-area humanitarian agencies. Senior administration officials said Sunday they would announce plans for next fiscal year’s refugee resettlements in the coming days.
Like his original travel ban, Trump’s March 6 order drew court challenges. Trump has cast his travel restrictions as efforts to block terrorist attacks, while his critics say they are driven by discrimination. The U.S. Supreme Court is scheduled to hear arguments about it on Oct. 10.
Walt Wallace — a traveler from Richmond, Va., who was traveling through Atlanta’s airport Sunday — said he understood the security issues involved in the travel ban. But he also said he was concerned about the impact on "people who are legitimately trying to come here... escaping persecution."
Edward Ahmed Mitchell, executive director of Georgia chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said Friday his organization might send attorneys to the airport. Mitchell added his organization will be watching to see if the restrictions are "motivated by legitimate concerns about national security, or are they motivated by anti-Muslim bigotry."
"If the order only impacts people who do not already have visas to travel here, then nobody should be caught up at the airport," Mitchell said. But, "if the order affects those already in transit like the first order did, then chaos could erupt and we'd need our attorneys at the airport."
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