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Is the US Smashing Eritrea With a New Travel Ban?

Recently, Politico reported that Eritrea would be subject to the Trump Administration’s controversial “Muslim travel ban”. ((https://www.politico.com/news/2020/01/21/donald-trump-travel-ban-expansion-101581)) In 2017 the Trump administration issued a “Muslim travel ban” (named so because it only targeted seven Muslim majority countries: Iran, Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Libya, Yemen and Somalia ((https://www.cnn.com/2017/01/29/politics/donald-trump-travel-ban-green-card-dual-citizens/index.html))) to protect the United States. The US Court’s have forced modification to the Muslim travel ban, and it has been narrowed.

According to the US State Department, Eritrea has been subject to a non-immigrant travel ban since January 2018. ((https://er.usembassy.gov/visas/)) The US non-immigrant travel ban on Eritrea has been instituted because Eritrea does not cooperate with the US in the forced repatriation of Eritreans (e.g., by issuing travel documents, etc. when an Eritrean national is subject to a forced removal order). “Eritrea maintains a policy of voluntary repatriation of its nationals wherever they may be. And it opposes any forced repatriation or expulsions.” ((Responses to Information Requests, Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada)) Eritrea has not changed its policy to allow forced return of Eritrean nationals.

Consequently, because Eritrea does not accept forced returnees, the Trump administration bars certain non-Immigrant visas to be given to Eritreans (as of January 2018), including B1, B2, F1, F2, J1, J2, M1, and M2 visas. This bars essentially all visa types, save for diplomats, crew members, au pairs, various cultural and athletic persons, etc. and is consistent with the Trump “Muslim travel ban” in spite of the fact that Eritrea is not a Muslim-majority country.

Because the prior ban is not appreciably different from the ban reported by Politico, it should not be considered significant. In spite of this, the basis of the visa travel ban should be reconsidered.

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