Wall Street Journal
By Laura Meckler
March 6, 2017
WASHINGTON—President Donald Trump signed a scaled-back travel ban on Monday that bars people from six Muslim-majority nations from entering the U.S. for 90 days but exempts travelers holding valid visas.
New Immigration Order: What’s Changed?
The new executive order doesn’t ban citizens of Iraq, one of many changes made to an original order in hopes of putting the travel restrictions on stronger legal and political footing. The White House said the ban is intended to stop potential threats to national security.
The original order, issued on Jan. 27, sparked widespread protests and multiple court challenges and was put on hold by the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco. With the new order now issued, opponents promised to file fresh court challenges.
The revised ban applies to the nations of Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. The order is effective on March 16, a delay that could address some of the judicial concerns about due process. Administration officials expressed hope that the delay would avoid the sort of chaos that followed the original order, though protests were already planned in response to the new one for Monday afternoon at the White House.
The new order still suspends the admission of refugees to the U.S. for 120 days and caps the annual total admission of refugees at 50,000. But it treats Syrian refugees the same way as those from other countries, whereas the original executive order indefinitely suspended the admission of Syrian refugees.
‘It is the president’s solemn duty to protect the American people, and with the order, President Trump is exercising his rightful authority to keep our people safe.’
—Secretary of State Rex Tillerson
“It is the president’s solemn duty to protect the American people, and with the order, President Trump is exercising his rightful authority to keep our people safe,” Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Monday.
Administration officials said they would use the delay to review vetting procedures and implement tougher rules. In making their case that there is a safety risk, the Justice Department said about 300 people admitted to the U.S. as refugees are currently under investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation for potential terrorism-related activities.
Mr. Trump, a Republican, signed the order at the White House Monday morning but didn’t speak publicly about it. Rather, Mr. Tillerson, along with Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly and Attorney General Jeff Sessions, made the administration’s case in brief statements to the media.
The decision to remove Iraq from the ban came after lobbying by senior administration officials, diplomats and Iraqis, who warned that including Iraq risked doing lasting harm to bilateral relations at a critical moment in the war with Islamic State. A senior Homeland Security official said Iraq had agreed to increased cooperation and information sharing in vetting applicants, a point Mr. Tillerson emphasized as well.
In another important change, the new order won’t apply to people who had valid visas on Jan. 27, the date of the original order, or to anyone already legally in the U.S. It also doesn’t apply to legal permanent residents, also known as green-card holders. The original version affected nearly 60,000 existing visa holders from seven nations, according to the State Department, and left the treatment of green-card holders unclear.
Those changes, along with the delay, could address concerns cited by the appellate court, which said the original order likely violated constitutional due-process protections for travelers excluded from the country because they weren’t given notice of the policy or a chance to challenge their denial of entry into the U.S. It is possible the administration will avoid the same kinds of due-process issues by focusing on foreigners who don’t have green cards or visas in hand, meaning they haven’t been previously approved for U.S. travel.
In a separate legal challenge to the first order, a Virginia federal judge ruled that the travel ban likely violated constitutional protections against religious discrimination by singling out Muslims.
The new order removed a provision giving preference to refugees who are members of religious minorities, which was expected to benefit Christians coming from Muslim nations. It is unclear if this would be enough to address those concerns.
“The core constitutional problem of religious discrimination remains, so we will continue to challenge the ban,” said Lee Gelernt, deputy director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Immigrants’ Rights Project, who filed the first legal challenge to the original travel ban. “The new order fixes certain due process problems, as we expected, but not the central constitutional problem of discrimination against Muslims.”
Mr. Trump’s administration had previously sent mixed messages about the fate of the original executive order, with aides saying it wouldn’t be rescinded. The new order revokes the first one as of the effective date. The Justice Department began notifying courts Monday afternoon that a new order had been issued and the previous one was being rescinded.
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