Chad is a top U.S. partner in the fight against terrorism in Africa, so it seemed odd to many experts when the country was added to the list of nations affected by President Donald Trump’s third travel ban, issued in September. Apparently, a shortage of passport paper is partly to blame.
To comply with the Trump administration’s “enhanced screening,” every country was required to provide a sample of its most recent passport to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security so it could determine how secure they were.
But according to The Associated Press, Chadian officials had run out of the special paper used to print passports and couldn’t comply with the request. They provided a pre-existing passport sample instead.
“It wasn’t enough to persuade Homeland Security to make an exception to requirements the agency has been applying strictly and literally to countries across the globe,” the AP reported, citing officials “who requested anonymity to discuss disagreements within the administration.”
The Department of Homeland Security says other factors contributed to Chad’s inclusion in the most recent ban. “Chad does not adequately share public safety and terrorism-related information,” Homeland Security spokesman David Lapan told the AP, echoing a statement about Chad from Trump’s proclamation. The document also noted that terror groups like the self-described Islamic State, al Qaeda and Boko Haram are all active within the country or the surrounding region.
Lapan added, however, that the U.S. was “eager to see Chad develop more secure travel documents and make other enhancements.”
Elaine C. Duke, the acting secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, recommended that Chad be added to the list because it hadn’t done enough to fight extremism. But current and former Pentagon and State Department officials have reportedly criticized the decision to include Chad in the ban, worrying that alienating a key U.S. partner could pose national security risks.
For now, Chadians won’t be affected by the ban. A federal judge in Hawaii blocked the order hours before it was supposed to go into effect on Wednesday, ruling that it was discriminatorily based on nationality. A Maryland federal court also issued a temporary block on the order.
The Department of Homeland Security did not immediately respond to a request for comment.