The Trump administration’s perplexing decision in September to add Chad — a key partner in U.S. counterterrorism efforts in central Africa — to its latest travel ban was almost entirely based on a technical snafu, U.S. officials told the Associated Press.
Put simply: Chad, one of the poorest countries in the world, ran out of passport paper.
AP reported Thursday that the Department of Homeland Security had asked every country to submit samples of their passport paper as part of a broader verification of whether they were secure. Unfortunately for Chadians hoping to visit the U.S., their country had run out of the required paper, and weren’t able to meet the U.S.’s demands in time.
U.S. officials said that Chad’s government had tried to submit an older version of the passport, but that their attempt wasn’t enough to sway the DHS into letting them off the hook.
President Trump’s travel ban, which blocked the issuance of business and tourist visas for Chad, Iran, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, North Korea, and several Venezuelan government officials, bewildered politicians and national security analysts alike. Especially considering that, in the same announcement, Sudan, a U.S.-designated state sponsor of terrorism, was taken off the list.
John Campbell, former U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria under President George W. Bush, predicted Chad’s unexpected inclusion on the list was likely due to an administrative failure and little more.
Chad has been an active partner in the U.S.’s fight against terrorist organizations like Boko Haram and al Shabaab, coordinating intelligence and hosting military exercises. Experts and former officials warn that Chad’s inclusion on the list of banned countries threatens American national interests.
Trump’s various travel bans have repeatedly been blocked by the courts. On Tuesday, a district court in Hawaii temporarily blocked the majority of the Trump administration’s third and most recent ban, which was set to be implemented Wednesday.