President Donald Trump signed a revised executive order for a U.S. travel ban on Monday, leaving Iraq off the list of targeted countries.
More than two dozen lawsuits were filed in U.S. courts against the original travel ban and the state of Washington succeeded in having it suspended by the 9th Circuit court of Appeals by arguing that it violated constitutional protections against religious discrimination.
The new order, which the White House said Trump had signed, will keep a 90-day ban on travel to the United States by citizens of six Muslim-majority nations — Iran, Libya, Syria, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen, the officials said.
White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders had said earlier on Monday that the new order would take effect on March 16. The new directive delays implementation.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told reporters on Monday, “As threats to our security continue to evolve and change, common sense dictates that we continually re-evaluate and reassess the systems we rely upon to protect our country.”
A White House senior official said Iraq was taken off the list in the original order, which was issued on Jan. 27, because the Iraqi government has imposed new vetting procedures, such as heightened visa screening and data sharing, and because of its work with the United States in countering Islamic State militants.
The White House official said the new executive order also ensures that tens of thousands of legal permanent residents in the United States — or green card holders — from the listed countries would not be affected by the travel ban.
Trump’s original order barred travelers from the seven nations from entering for 90 days and all refugees for 120 days. Refugees from Syria were to be banned indefinitely but under the new order they are not given separate treatment.
“This executive order has scrapped that division and the indefinite suspension and has collapsed them into a single category of a 120-day suspension,” the White House official said.
Still, the new order is drawing widespread criticism among progressives who challenged the first executive order and many other actions by the president.
“Version 2.0 of the Trump anti-Muslim executive order is still based entirely on religious hatred and thinly-veiled racism,” said Rea Carey, executive director of the National LGBTQ Task Force. ” He is still targeting specific countries; he is telegraphing his despicable anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant, anti-refugee and anti-people of color views. This version is still completely against core American values such as freedom of, and from, religion; it still diminishes our stature as a global partner for humanitarianism by denying vulnerable refugee families some basic respite — solely on the basis of their faith.”
New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman said, “Courts across the country have made clear: President Trump is not above the Constitution. While the White House may have made changes to the ban, the intent to discriminate against Muslims remains clear. This doesn’t just harm the families caught in the chaos of President Trump’s draconian policies — it’s diametrically opposed to our values, and makes us less safe.”
“The changes the Trump administration has made, and everything we’ve learned since the original ban rolled out, completely undermine the bogus national security justifications the president has tried to hide behind and only strengthen the case against his unconstitutional executive orders,” said Omar Jadwat, director of the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project.