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How Could the New Travel Ban Hurt the US Economy?



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In January 2020, the Trump Administration announced updates to its travel ban enacted in 2017 to include six additional countries. Taking effect in late February 2020, the new restrictions will bar immigrants from Nigeria, Myanmar, Eritrea, and Kyrgyzstan from obtaining permanent residency visas or “Green Cards.” It also will ban immigrants from Sudan and Tanzania from obtaining visas through the diversity lottery program. The new changes, however, will not affect students or temporary workers with highly specialized skills.
The new restrictions will impact nearly a quarter of the people on the African continent. Closer to home, it will also affect more than 645,000 immigrants in the United States. This includes more than 336,000 naturalized U.S. citizens who will no longer be able to reunite with family living abroad.
The reasoning behind the new travel ban comes ostensibly from security concerns raised by the Department of Homeland Security about how each country shares terrorism-related information with the United States. For Nigeria, the country most affected by the ban, DHS claims there to be an “elevated risk and threat environment.” This is despite Nigeria’s active partnership with the U.S. military and this productive trade and economic relationship as the largest economy in Africa with the United States.
While new travel ban’s full impact won’t known until it goes into effect, it’s likely that there will be significant economic costs. Given the characteristics of immigrants from newly banned countries already here, putting into question their future in the United States as well as barring similar immigrants from coming would hamstring the U.S. economy.
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