Over a dozen countries are likely to be asked to improve their vetting process to avoid being included in the list of nations facing the travel ban in the US, a top official has said.
At the same time, Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly said he believes that the chances of more countries getting included in the list of banned countries are slim.
“I don’t believe that the list will be expanded, but there are countries out there that we will ask, like Iraq has done, by the involvement of their prime minister, to cooperate with us better, to get us the information we need to safeguard the country,” Kelly was quoted as saying by CNN.
However, he refused to speculate on naming those countries.
“I don’t want to speculate. But there are probably 13 or 14 other countries, not all of them Muslim countries, not all of them in the Middle East, that have very questionable vetting procedures that we can rely on,” he said.
“If we overlay additional vetting procedures, the chances are there that there will be minimum number of citizens from those countries that visit our country,” Kelly said in response to a question.
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said he hopes that in the 90 days period country-wise review would be completed.
“There’s two things that are happening. One is, we are putting a ban on those countries, the six (countries Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen). But two is, we’re looking at the rest of the entire world, and all of the procedures that we use to address all countries,” he said.
“So at the end of that period, we could add countries. We could subtract countries. We could decide to indefinitely continue with one of the six, rather,” Spicer said in response to a question.
“But if you look at the case of Iraq, after the first order, they stepped up with four very specific things that they did to ensure that people traveling from Iraq, we had certain things—whether it be biometrics and others—that let us ensure that people coming into the country, we felt confident in knowing that they were coming in,” he said.
“But that’s an important thing. It’s not just those six. We are dealing with those during that 90-day—but we are also looking at everybody else at the same period,” he said.
However, Democratic leaders alleged that this is a Muslim ban.
“It is still basically a Muslim ban. It’s still a ban based on one’s religion. And every time our country has targeted a minority group for discriminatory treatment, we have been proven to be very, very wrong. And the president is wrong in this instance,” Senator Mazie Hirono from Hawaii was quoted as saying by CNN.