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The latest executive order temporarily banning travel from several majority-Muslim nations has a few added caveats that its controversial initial rendering did not.
Senior administration officials highlighted those points in the hour before President Trump signed the new order on Monday. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, and Attorney General Jeff Sessions also held brief remarks about the revised travel ban.
The major differences are as follows.
1. Iraq is removed from the list.
The new order singles out Sudan, Iran, Somalia, Yemen, Syria, and Libya. Citizens from those nations will be exposed to the 90-day hold on issuances of visas, just as they were in the original order that Trump signed in late January. Iraq, however, which appeared on the first list, has been removed.
During the Monday press call, a Homeland Security official said this was because the Iraqi government agreed to provide the US with additional information about its citizens.
“Iraq is no longer one of those countries because we have received firm commitments from the government of Iraq over the last several weeks since the first executive order was issued about increased cooperation with the United States in terms of information sharing,” the Homeland Security official said. “We have received adequate assurance from the government of Iraq that we will be able to do the kind of vetting a screening of its nationals that the president of the United States has directed.”
2. Existing visa holders will not be subjected to the ban.
The original order’s failure to distinguish a position on existing visa holders from those countries led to mass chaos at airports immediately after its implementation. Kelly, the secretary of homeland security, said soon after its implementation that green-card holders would not be affected by the travel ban.
This time, existing visa holders are exempt from the beginning. The 90-day period applies to citizens of those six nations seeking new visas.
3. Religious minorities are no longer given preferential treatment.
The new travel ban will not give preferential treatment to religious minorities, such as Syrian Christians, applying as refugees.
That provision had given critics reason to believe that the initial order was intended to serve as a de facto “Muslim ban,” something Trump had touted along the campaign trail, though he wavered from it at times.
4. Syrian refugees are no longer singled out.
The new order retains a 120-day ban on entry to the US by all refugees, but that group now also includes Syrian refugees, who were previously facing an indefinite ban on entry into the US.
5. The rollout will occur in 10 days.
Instead of being implemented immediately, the new executive order will take effect March 16, giving the government a full 10 days to adjust and prepare.
“You should not see any chaos, so to speak, or alleged chaos, at airports,” a Homeland Security official said in the press call, later adding, “There aren’t going to be folks stopped tonight from coming into the country pursuant to this executive order.”
That position runs contrary to what Trump tweeted once a federal judge placed a nationwide stay on the original order.
“If the ban were announced with a one week notice, the ‘bad’ would rush into our country during that week,” he wrote. “A lot of bad ‘dudes’ out there!”
In remarks to the press after Trump’s signing of the order, Sessions said the goal of the order was “to protect the American people as well as lawful immigrants.”
“The US has a right to control who enters our country and to keep out those who would do us harm,” he said, claiming that the FBI was conducting 300 terrorism-related investigations into refugees.
Senior officials on the press call earlier refused to answer which countries those refugees came to the US from, making it unclear whether those refugees were from the nations included in the ban.
“With this order, President Trump is exercising his rightful authority to keep our people safe,” Tillerson said in his remarks.
Democrats remained steadfast in opposition to the order.
“Trump’s obsession with religious discrimination is disgusting, un-American, and outright dangerous,” Democratic National Committee Chair Tom Perez said in a statement. “Don’t be fooled — he promised again and again during his campaign that he would single out and persecute a specific religious group, and that’s exactly what he’s trying to do now.”
And Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said the “watered-down ban is still a ban.”
“Despite the administration’s changes, this dangerous executive order makes us less safe, not more, it is mean-spirited, and un-American,” the New York Democrat said. “It must be repealed.”
“Delaying its announcement so the president could bask in the aftermath of his joint address is all the proof Americans need to know that this has absolutely nothing to do with national security,” he added. “Despite their best efforts, I fully expect this executive order to have the same uphill climb in the courts that the previous version had.”