Trump signs order introducing revised travel ban
Iraq removed from list on original legislation while green card holders exempted
US president Donald Trump signed a revised executive order temporarily banning immigration from six Muslim-majority countries on Monday as the White House vowed to pursue its hardline stance on immigration.
Five weeks after Mr Trump’s original travel ban sparked domestic protests and international outrage, the US president signed a modified order, removing Iraq from the ban and exempting citizens who already have the legal right to live in the US.
The decision to exempt Iraq – which is understood to reflect the input of defence secretary James Mattis and Mr Trump’s newly-appointed national security adviser General Herbert Raymond McMaster, an Iraq war veteran – was made following widespread criticism of the decision to include the country in the original order, given that US troops are fighting alongside Iraqi troops in the region.
The move to exempt existing visa-holders from the 90-day ban was seen as more strategic. One of the key legal arguments of the appeal court’s decision to uphold a stay on the original ban was that it did not explicitly guarantee the rights of green-card holders and those who already had permission to live in the country.
The executive order, which was signed behind closed doors in the White House, also suspends the US refugee programme for 120 days, caps the number of refugees accepted by the US at 50,000, down from the 110,000 limit introduced by Barack Obama, though it removes the original order’s indefinite ban of Syrian refugees.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson described the order as “a vital measure for strengthening our national security.”
“It is the president’s solemn duty to protect the American people, and with this order, president Trump is exercising his rightful authority to keep our people safe.”
In a bid to avoid the scenes of chaos and confusion at US airports when the original order was issued on January 27th, the revised order comes into force on March 16th, though legal challenges are expected.
Despite the changes presented in the new order, Democrats and refugee agencies strongly criticised the measures. David Miliband, head of the International Rescue Committee, said the ban “heartlessly targets the most vetted and most vulnerable population to enter the United States. It’s counterproductive and cruel.”
Monday’s announcement followed a tumultuous weekend for Mr Trump which saw the president accuse his predecessor Mr Obama of ordering the wire-tapping of his phones, an accusation rejected by the former director of national intelligence, James Clapper.