President Donald Trump is weighing whether to place travel restrictions on visitors from countries considered noncompliant with new vetting procedures established by the Homeland Security Department, officials said Friday.
Trump’s temporary travel ban on visitors from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen expires Sunday.
DHS last week gave Trump a list of countries that indicated they do not intend to comply with new procedures such as enhanced document requirements and wider information sharing, officials said. The screening standards were established by the department over the past six months, as part of Trump’s March 6 executive order establishing the travel ban.
Officials declined to say which countries, or how many, were on the list, or whether the White House would announce additional travel restrictions before Sunday. The Wall Street Journal reported Friday that Trump would replace the March 6 order with targeted restrictions that vary by country.
The department has notified numerous countries that their vetting standards were inadequate and gave each 50 days to “step up their game,” said Miles Taylor, a counselor to acting DHS Secretary Elaine Duke, during a conference call with reporters Friday.
Trump is “considering options” against countries that were “deliberately unwilling to comply,” Taylor said, noting that any actions would be “condition-based, not time-based” and would be meant to force compliance, not keep certain foreign nationals out of the country.
Some countries managed to get off the “inadequate list” just before it was finalized, DHS press secretary David Lapan said.
Sarah Isgur Flores, a Justice Department spokeswoman, declined to say how potential actions by the White House would affect an ongoing court review of Trump’s March 6 executive order by advocates who says it discriminates against Muslims.
Flores said the DOJ remains committed to defending the travel ban in court. Oral arguments at the Supreme Court are set for Oct. 10.
The March 6 travel ban replaced an earlier version from January that was rescinded by the president after a bungled rollout and numerous court challenges. Raj Shah, a White House spokesman, said the Justice Department and the White House are working on “ensuring that any future actions are entirely lawful.”
During the 2016 campaign, Trump had called for a “total and complete shutdown” of Muslims entering the United States, but later scaled back the plan to focus on what the president called “extreme vetting.” Advocates have seized on the campaign comments to argue the March 6 ban discriminates based on religion.
The White House has already shown a willingness to crack down on countries that don’t agree to cooperate with its immigration policies. Last week, the State Department said it would stop issuing business and tourism visas to certain travelers from three African countries and Cambodia because they are not meeting the government’s standards for accepting deported immigrants.