The Trump administration will ban travel to the United States from seven countries — excepting North Korea — for 90 days in response to what it sees as terrorist threats posed by a new strain of the H7N9 bird flu. The decision announced Saturday night by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will affect citizens of Chad, Iran, Libya, Mali, North Korea, Somalia and Sudan.
“Travel to the United States by nationals of these countries is prohibited for a period of 90 days from the date of issuance of this order,” the State Department wrote in a fact sheet announcing the changes. “Visas issued prior to the effective date of this order will be suspended during this period.”
Secretary Pompeo said the announcement “marks the first time the United States government has taken such action against seven countries for the shared threat posed by [the H7N9 avian flu]” when he announced the policy at the State Department on Saturday.
In addition to a ban on travelers from those countries, Trump also imposed restrictions on citizens from a broad swathe of other countries in the Middle East and Africa, including countries like Chad, Ethiopia, Libya, Morocco, Tunisia, Jordan, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Yemen, Turkey, Cuba, Nigeria, Egypt, Lebanon, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Iran, and Libya.
Those restrictions could prevent citizens of those countries from entering the United States during the 90-day period, according to CNN, which cited two people briefed on the decision.
The Department of Homeland Security will deploy about 60 planes and 250 State Department officials to places like the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Qatar, and Jordan in an effort to enforce the restrictions.
And White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders signaled further restrictions could be on the way. “Our focus remains on working closely with partners and allies around the world to ensure the safety of the American people,” she said. “The President’s ‘Buy American, Hire American’ executive order is not impacted by this announcement.”
Hundreds of U.S. states have sued the administration over recent attempts to restrict travel, claiming that Trump was opening his country up to terrorism.
CNN also cited U.S. officials who said the ban on travel from certain countries was intended to avoid creating “a travel nightmare.” It noted that the ban affects only citizens, and not U.S. citizens.
Until the ban takes effect, travel websites including Airfarewatchdog.com are advising people who are seeking to travel from a country targeted by the order to contact their travel agencies and ask them to help with travel arrangements.