Photo: Nigerian foreign minister Geoffrey Onyeama shakes hands with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at press conference this week.
By Felipe Vera
Last Friday, Donald Trump signed a proposed expansion of the current travel ban which will go into effect February 22, three years after the initial travel ban was put in place.
Belarus, Myanmar, Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan, Nigeria, Sudan and Tanzania will now be added to the list of banned visas that currently include Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria, Venezuela, and Yemen.
Some of the restrictions include the banning of foreign nationals with student, tourist, or business visas, in some cases restricting certain government officials such as those from Venezuela.
The expanded travel ban falls in line with Trump’s immigration policies overall. His executive order “Buy American Hire American” significantly increased the number of ICE I-9 audits from over 1,300 in 2017 to nearly 6,000 in 2018, and served over 3,200 notices in a matter of three weeks in 2019.
During Trump’s State of the Union Address on Tuesday, he boasted about the fact that over 120,000 people have been detained by ICE. He also stated that 100 miles of the border wall have already been constructed, totaling around 500 miles, and claiming that by next year there will be “substantially more.” The anti-immigration rhetoric and policies can be seen as part of his re-election effort, with his campaign having been launched in June of last year.
While some news outlets merely portray Trump’s travel ban as being anti-Muslim or ant-immigrant, this only scratches the surface and fails to address US imperialism’s greater interests. According to White House spokesman Hogan Gidley, “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.”
What is conveniently left out is the fact that in many of these countries wars have been ongoing, such as in Yemen, Syria, and Libya, where US imperialism has forcefully inserted itself and continues its plunder and genocide on the masses of people.
One of the proposed countries, Eritrea, which is west of Yemen (separated by the Red Sea), has strengthened ties with social-imperialist China as early as May 2019. Although the US recently signed the first phase of a trade deal with China, this preliminary agreement does not preclude the business-as-usual inter-imperialist competition and conquest around the world.
In Nigeria, the Islamic State of West Africa Province (ISWAP), a splinter from Boko Haram, has been gaining more influence in the northeastern region, and have also attacked a United Nations (UN) “humanitarian” facility, burning a section of it and destroying a vehicle.
These examples highlight that the rebellion of the masses as well as the growing influence of rival imperialists such as China have forced US imperialism to more heavily enforce its global hegemony. The travel ban’s expansion is a containment effort, pressuring these countries to succumb to US counterinsurgency measures and interests.
In the case of Chad, the Department of Homeland Security declared that the country’s transportation system adequately met the security standards of the US, resulting in their removal from the ban in April of 2018. Sudan, a friend of Saudi Arabia, was removed from the ban in 2017 after intensifying its military efforts in Yemen. The removal of these countries from the ban was a result of subservience by their ruling classes to the interests of US imperialism.