After his first attempt hit a series of legal hurdles, President Donald Trump on Monday signed a revised version of a controversial travel ban targeting refugee admissions and travel from some Muslim-majority countries.
The new version is designed to address legal concerns that have been flagged by several courts, including a federal judge in Seattle who ordered implementation to be halted. That ruling was later upheld by a federal appeals court.
Iraq has been dropped from the list of seven Muslim-majority countries from which visas had been temporarily suspended. The order notes that the two countries’ governments have a “close cooperative relationship” that justifies “different treatment”. Refugee admissions will be suspended for 120 days after the order’s effective date of March 16 while federal agencies conduct a review of screening procedures. It also caps the number of refugee admissions into the US for fiscal year 2017 at 50,000.
Entry of individuals from the remaining six countries — Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen — will be suspended for 90 days from the new order’s effective date.
The new order formally revokes and replaces its predecessor, according to text provided by the White House. It also carves out protections for lawful permanent residents, diplomatic visa holders and others whose legal status had been thrown into question by the previous order.
The White House said in a statement that the new order — which has been in the works for several weeks since the court rulings — had been signed by Mr Trump on Monday morning.
“This revised order will bolster the national security of the United States and her allies,” Rex Tillerson, secretary of state, said in a press conference. Jeff Sessions, Mr Trump’s attorney general, said that the order is a “just like the first, is a lawful and proper exercise of presidential authority” to restrict immigration for national-security purposes.
Nevertheless, some of the same groups that hauled the Trump administration into court over the previous iteration were already drawing battle lines on Monday morning. Omar Jadwat, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s immigrants’ rights project, called the new order a “scaled-back version that shares the same fatal flaws”, adding that Mr Trump “can expect continued disapproval from both the courts and the people”.
Eric Schneiderman, the New York attorney general who took part in legal challenges to Mr Trump’s first travel ban, said in a statement on Monday that his office is closely reviewing the new order that he “stand(s) ready to litigate — again — in order to protect New York’s families, institutions and economy.”