Trump Signs Revised Travel Order
WASHINGTON -- U.S. President Donald Trump has signed a revised executive order that temporarily bars entry into the United States of citizens from six Muslim-majority countries after his original order was blocked by U.S. federal judges.
The order, which Trump signed privately on March 6, freezes the issuing of new visas for citizens of Iran, Syria, Sudan, Libya, Somalia, and Yemen for 90 days.
Individuals from those six countries with pre-existing, valid visas would still have their visas honored.
The revised order, which takes effect on March 16, also suspends the U.S. refugee program for 120 days, also suspends the U.S. refugee program for 120 days but does not include the previous indefinite suspension of entry for Syrian refugees.
Trump's first executive order on foreign travelers, issued on January 27, temporarily barred citizens of those same six countries -- as well as Iraq -- from entering the United States for a 90-day period.
The revised order, however, does not bar new visas for citizens of Iraq. It says that, since Trump's January 27 travel order, Baghdad "has expressly undertaken steps to enhance travel documentation, information sharing, and the return of Iraqi nationals subject to final orders of removal."
It also does not include permanent U.S. residents from the six listed countries
Trump insists that the travel order is necessary to ensure the nation's security, while critics have accused him of religious-based discrimination -- a charge the White House rejects.
The revised measure was announced with much less fanfare than Trump's original executive order, which he signed at a ceremony at the Pentagon and which triggered confusion and protests at airports across the United States.
Trump's administration did not offer an explanation for his decision to sign the revised order behind closed doors.
The revised order was unveiled by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, who did not take questions from the media.
"To our allies and partners around the world: Please understand this order is part of our ongoing efforts to eliminate vulnerabilities that radical Islamist terrorists can and will exploit for destructive ends," Tillerson said in prepared remarks.
Senior White House aide Kellyanne Conway said earlier on March 6 that the executive order was part of "a very important week in this White House where the president is going to continue to act on, along with the Congress, major pieces of his legislative and executive agenda."
Conway said the revised executive order on travel makes it "much more clear now" that the temporary entry ban excludes "legal permanent residents" of the United States.
Iraq welcomed its removal from the revised U.S. travel order, calling it a "positive message" at a time when U.S. and Iraqi forces are battling so-called Islamic State (IS) militants.
The Associated Press and Reuters report that the White House removed Iraq from the list under pressure from the U.S. State Department and the Pentagon, which had noted the close cooperation between the two countries in battling IS militants in Iraq's northern city of Mosul.
Iraqi government spokesman Saad al-Hadithi said on March 6 the revision shows that Iraq and the United States have a "real partnership."
Iraqi Foreign Ministry spokesman Ahmed Jamal said the revised executive order "reinforces the strategic alliance between Baghdad and Washington in many areas at the forefront in the fight against terrorism."
The original order angered many Iraqis, and prompted Iraq's parliament to call for a reciprocal ban on U.S. citizens entering Iraq.
But Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi refused to impose such measures.
Copyright (c) 2015. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036.