WASHINGTON (CBSNewYork/AP) — President Donald Trump has privately signed a revised travel ban that temporarily halts entry to the U.S. for people from six Muslim-majority nations who are seeking new visas and suspends the country’s refugee program, White House spokesman Michael Short said.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called the new order “a vital measure” for strengthening the nation’s security.
“It is the president’s solemn duty to protect the American people and with this order, President Trump is exercising his rightful authority to keep our people safe,” Tillerson said.
The revised order is narrower and specifies that a 90-day ban on people from Sudan, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia and Yemen does not apply to those who already have valid visas.
“Like every nation, the United States has a right to control who enters our country and to keep out those who would do us harm,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said.
Sessions said three of the nations are state sponsors of terrorism, and the other three have served as safe havens for terrorist countries.
“This executive order responsibly provides a needed pause so we can carefully review how we scrutinize people coming here from these countries of concern,” Sessions said. “The Department of Justice believes that this executive order, just like the first executive order, is a lawful and proper exercise of presidential authority.”
Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) opposed the ban and said it must be repealed.
“Despite the Administration’s changes, the #MuslimBan2 makes us less safe, not more, it is mean-spirited & un-American. It must be repealed,” he wrote on Twitter. “Americans need to know that this latest Exec Order has absolutely nothing to do with national security. It is still a ban.”
The White House also dropped Iraq from the list of banned countries. Iraq was originally included on the list of banned countries. It was removed from the order after agreeing to increase cooperation with the U.S. government on vetting of its citizens applying for a travel visa.
Iraq said the decision sends a “positive message” about the future of bilateral relations as the two countries work to combat the Islamic State group. Government spokesman Saad al-Hadithi said it shows there is a “real partnership” between Washington and Baghdad.
The new ban also makes clear that lawful permanent residents, known as green card holders, are excluded from the ban.
It will be effective as of March 16.
New Jersey’s junior senator is also sharply criticizing the reworked version of the controversial travel ban.
Cory Booker said the order makes it clear that Trump’s intent is still “to exclude refugees and immigrants of a certain religion” from entering the United States. He said a “rebranded Muslim ban is still a Muslim ban, plain and simple.”
U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez says it’s “preposterous to see a recalcitrant White House” again put “fringe politics” ahead of national security and the Constitution.
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who last month filed a lawsuit against the original ban, said his office is closely reviewing the new order.
“While the White House may have made changes to the ban, the intent to discriminate against Muslims remains clear,” Schneiderman said in a statement. “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 American Civil Liberties Union said it will move “very quickly” to block the new travel ban from taking effect, either by amending existing lawsuits that blocked the original order or seeking a new injunction.
“We’re going to move very quickly in court to make sure that at least one of the injunctions currently in place around the country remains in place,” Lee Gelernt, deputy director of the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project, told The Associated Press.
Gelernt said while the new order addresses some legal problems, it does not “eliminate the basic constitutional problem we saw in the first executive order, which is discrimination on the basis of religion. And so we will continue to challenge.”
The changes might be subtle, but Cornell Law professor Steve Yale-Loehr, who teaches immigration law, thinks they might be enough, WCBS 880’s Peter Haskell reported.
“I think that this is going to be more likely to succeed on the merits in court,” Yale-Loehr said.
Unlike the old order, the new one does not give preference to Christians, Haskell reported.
“I think that’s another evidence that the Trump administration is trying to make sure that this is not perceived as being a religious ban,” Yale-Loehr said.
Trump’s original order, signed in January, sparked immediate confusion, panic and outrage as some travelers were detained in U.S. airports and prompted federal courts to intervene.
(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)
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