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Report: President Trump Considers Expanding Travel Ban



A new report suggests that President Trump is considering an expansion of the controversial, and much-litigated, travel ban that he imposed three years ago within days after taking office.

A document outlining the plan was viewed by the Associated Press, which talked to several people familiar with the new directive.

The AP said that immigration, one of the topics that helped propel Trump to the presidency in the 2016 election, would again be a focus for the president in this election year.

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The countries that would be added to the list were redacted on the plan that the AP saw, but the news organization noted that the current ban – which includes Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Yemen, Venezuela and North Korea – could include seven more.

Presumably, that could include Iraq, Sudan and Chad, countries that were on the original list but later removed in a lawsuit.

White House House spokesman Hogan Gidley declined to confirm the plan but released a statement to the AP.

“The Travel Ban has been very successful in protecting our Country and raising the security baseline around the world,” he said. “While there are no new announcements at this time, common-sense and national security both dictate that if a country wants to fully participate in U.S. immigration programs, they should also comply with all security and counter-terrorism measures, because we do not want to import terrorism or any other national security threat into the United States.”

An announcement is believed to happen on or around Jan. 27, the third anniversary of Trump’s original announcement of a travel ban – a move, though talked about during the 2016 campaign – came as a shock to the entire travel industry, including airlines, airports, customs agents and border patrol officials who had no idea it would be implemented so quickly.

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U.S. State Department Stops Issuing Passports Amid COVID-19



The U.S. Department of State has scaled back its Passport Agency operations and will no longer be issuing new passports in view of the situation surrounding the still-escalating COVID-19 pandemic.

Travel + Leisure pointed out that the release of this directive in late March coincided with the State Department’s issuance of a Level 4 travel advisory, which warns Americans to avoid all international travel and instructing those outside U.S. borders to return home immediately or risk being stranded abroad for an indefinite period of time.

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The Passport Divisions’ recent policy change mentioned that those who had already applied to obtain a new passport or renew an existing one prior to March 20, 2020, will not have their orders affected. The agency said that it would honor its commitment to fulfilling those expedited-service orders placed on or before March 19 within two to three weeks, door-to-door.

Moving forward, passports will be available only to persons facing qualifying life-or-death emergencies, such as serious illnesses, injuries or deaths in their immediate family, which require them to travel outside the United States within 72 hours’ time.

Such persons will need to not only provide their passport application and supporting documents, and proof of planned international travel (e.g. reservation, ticket or itinerary), but also proof of the life-or-death circumstance. This might include documents like a death certificate, a statement from a mortuary, or a signed letter from a hospital or medical professional, and must be translated into English.

To make an appointment at a passport center in the event of a life-or-death emergency, one must call the National Passport Information Center at 1-877-487-2778, Monday through Friday, between the hours of 8:00 a. m. and 5:00 p.m., or Saturdays from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. (EST); or call (202) 647-4000 outside of regular business hours.

No indication was given as to when the State Department would again begin accepting passport applications. As is now the case among most organizations that are attempting to respond to the continually evolving pandemic, its future plans remain up in the air. The announcement only stated, “The status of our operations may change quickly. We will update this notice as the status changes.”

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