US President Donald Trump has signed a new executive order placing a 90-day ban on people from 6 mainly Muslim nations. Iraq – which was covered in the previous seven-nation order – has been removed from the new one after agreeing additional visa vetting measures.
The directive, which includes a 120-day ban on all refugees, takes effect on 16 March. The previous order, which was blocked by a federal court, sparked confusion at airports and mass protests. But activists said they were planning to challenge the new ban, the Guardian reports.
Presented as a means to strengthen national security against terror threats, it was blocked by the courts and effectively remains on hold.
The new order seeks to address prior complaints by removing language that granted priority to religious minorities for refugee resettlement, which had been viewed as targeting Muslims. It states that Trump’s original directive “was not motivated by animus toward any religion”, a remark rejected instantly by refugee advocates and civil liberty groups, who said they planned to challenge the second order on similar grounds.
It also includes specific exemptions for lawful permanent residents, who had initially been covered by the previous order.
And it removes Iraq from the list of targeted states, and implements a more gradual roll-out, meaning the new travel ban will not come into full effect for another 10 days.
“Make no mistake,” White House press secretary Sean Spicer told reporters Monday in reference to the changes. “We lost the element of surprise back when the court enjoined this in the ninth circuit and we had to go back to the drawing board.”
The president quietly signed the order away from the presence of cameras or the press, a noteworthy changefrom the original travel ban’s rollout at the Department of Defense on 27 January.
The revised ban was instead announced by the heads of the agencies that will be tasked with overseeing its implementation. Addressing a limited pool of reporters on Monday, secretary of state Rex Tillerson, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) secretary John Kelly, and attorney general Jeff Sessions dubbed the move critical to US national security.