President Trump’s revised travel ban targets the same seven countries listed in his original executive order and exempts travelers who have already have a visa to travel to the U.S., even if they haven’t used it yet.
A senior White House official said the order will target only those same seven Muslim-majority nations, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Sudan and Libya. Trump was forced to come up with a second order after federal courts held up his original immigration and refugee ban. The official said the order could come sometime this week.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the order before it’s made public, said that green-card holders and dual citizens of the U.S. and any of those countries are exempt. The new draft also no longer directs authorities to single out — and reject — Syrian refugees when processing new visa applications.
White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the version being circulated was a draft and the final version should be released soon. The Wall Street Journal also reported that the current draft of the revised order focused on the seven countries but excluded those with green cards.
Trump’s original executive order triggered chaos at airports around the world, as travelers were detained when the order rapidly went into effect, U.S. permanent residents known as green-card holders among them. Attorneys provided legal assistance to those held and protesters descended on the airports as news of the order’s implementation spread. In its original form, the order temporarily suspended all travel to the U.S. for citizens of those seven Muslim-majority countries for 90 days.
The original order also called for Homeland Security and State department officials, along with the director of national intelligence, to review what information the government needs to fully vet would-be visitors and come up with a list of countries that can’t or won’t make the information available. It said the government will give countries 60 days to start providing the information or citizens from those countries will be barred from traveling to the United States.
Even if Syrian refugees are no longer automatically rejected under the new order, the pace of refugees entering the U.S. from all countries is likely to slow significantly. That’s because even when the courts put Trump’s original ban on hold, they left untouched Trump’s 50,000-per-year refugee cap, a cut of more than half from the cap under the Obama administration.
The U.S. has already taken in more than 35,000 refugees this year, leaving less than 15,000 spots before hitting Trump’s cap, according to a U.S. official. That means that for the rest of this fiscal year, the number of refugees being let in per week will likely fall to a fraction of what it had been under the Obama administration’s cap of 110,000.
The travel ban again came under attack when the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco refused to reinstate the ban, unanimously rejecting the administration’s claim of presidential authority, questioning its motives and ability to survive legal challenges. The pushback prompted Trump to tweet “SEE YOU IN COURT!” and he has since lashed out at the judicial branch, accusing it of issuing a politically motivated decision.
Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, speaking at the Munich Security Conference about combating terrorism, said Trump was working on a “streamlined” version of the initial executive order. Kelly said Trump’s original order was designed as a “temporary pause” to allow him to “see where our immigration and vetting system has gaps — and gaps it has — that could be exploited.”
He said the Trump administration was surprised when U.S. courts blocked the executive order and now “the president is contemplating releasing a tighter, more streamlined version” of the travel ban.
Kelly said this next time he will be able to “make sure that there’s no one caught in the system of moving from overseas to our airports.”