Donald Trump has made changes to his travel ban
Donald Trump has made changes to his travel ban

Donald Trump's travel ban softened for Muslim nation

PRESIDENT Donald Trump has signed a revised executive order on immigration, out of view of cameras and reporters, that removes Iraq from the list of seven Muslim-majority countries targeted by his earlier travel ban.

The order, scheduled to take effect on March 16, allows all current visa holders to enter the US and includes Syrian refugees in a 120-day suspension rather than banning them indefinitely.

Mr Trump did not deliver the news, instead leaving US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Homeland Security chief John Kelly to front the media on Monday.

"With this order, President Trump is exercising his rightful authority to keep our people safe," Mr Tillerson said, adding that the revised ban was "a vital measure for strengthening our national security."

The new order applies to six Muslim-majority countries: Iran, Libya, Syria, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen. Iraq, which has given firm commitments to the US "about increased co-operation", has been dropped. Iraq welcomed the news, calling it a "positive message" at a time when American and Iraqi forces are battling IS.

Iraq to be removed from US travel ban

The March 16 start date is an attempt to avoid a repeat of the mass confusion that occurred at airports across the world when the first order was put in place on January 27 without warning.

More than two dozen lawsuits were filed in federal courts against the original ban. The state of Washington succeeded in having it suspended by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals by arguing it violated constitutional protections against religious discrimination.


Moments after the announcement, activists vowed to challenge the "Muslim Ban 2.0", including the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) which led legal challenges againt Mr Trump's first travel ban.

The legal advocacy body filed the lawsuit on behalf of two Iraqi men that halted Mr Trump's original executive order back in January.

"The Trump administration has conceded that its original Muslim ban was indefensible," said Omar Jadwat, ACLU's Immigrants' Rights Project, in a statement. "Unfortunately, it has replaced it with a scaled-back version that shares the same fatal flaws."

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who filed a lawsuit against Mr Trump's original travel ban, released a statement on Monday saying he was ready to "litigate - again" because "the intent to discriminate against Muslims remains clear" in the new executive order.

Amnesty International USA said in a statement: "This replacement order is the same hate and fear with new packaging. It will cause extreme fear and uncertainty for thousands of families by, once again, putting anti-Muslim hatred into policy.

"No amount of editing can make this executive order anything but what it is - blatant bigotry. There are real threats to security, but this bigoted order will do nothing to make the country safer."

Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer, from New York, also said the revised order was still a Muslim ban.

White House counsellor Kellyanne Conway first broke the news on Monday morning, hours before the official press conference, on Fox & Friends.

Ms Conway defended the exemption of Iraq, saying the country "is a very important ally in our fight against ISIS, but also Iraq has improved its screening and reporting procedures in consultation with this administration."


- The new order launches a 90-day period for the Department of Homeland Security to define a new series of requirements for countries to have full participation in US entry programs.

- For countries that do not comply, the State Department, Homeland Security and intelligence agencies can make recommendations on what, if any, restrictions should be imposed.

- The new order spells out detailed categories of people eligible to enter the United States, such as for business or medical travel, or people with family connections or who support the US.

- Two other major changes from the initial immigration order: The new order will no longer give preference to individuals from a "minority religion," such as Christianity. That distinction gave more fodder to critics saying that the initial order was targeting Muslims.

- The new order will no longer suspend the entry of Syrian refugees indefinitely. Now, all refugee visas from all countries will be suspended for 120 days. When the program resumes, the order caps refugee admissions to the US at 50,000 for the 2017 fiscal year.

- It only blocks people who didn't have a valid visa as of January 27, 2017.

News Corp Australia

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