The newly-signed Monday executive order temporarily barring travel from a slew of majority-Muslim nations has a few added caveats its controversial initial rendering did not.
Senior administration officials highlighted those points in the hour before President Donald Trump signed the new order. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, and Attorney General Jeff Sessions also held brief remarks about the revised travel ban, which included a revoking of the initial version.
The major differences included are as follows:
1. Iraq is removed from the list
The list of nations included in the new order are 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 signed by Trump in late January. However, the seventh nation included on that first list, Iraq, was removed.
During the Monday press call, a Homeland Security official explained that 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 in the immediate aftermath of its implementation. Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly said soon after its implementation that visa holders would not be effected by the travel ban.
This time around, existing visa holders are exempted. 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 various times.
4. Syrian refugees are no longer singled out
Although there is a temporary ban on refugees entering the US from around the world over the 120 days that follow the new executive order's implementation, Syrian refugees will no longer face an indefinite barring of entry into the US.
5. The roll-out will occur in 10 days
Instead of being implemented immediately, the new executive order will take effect on 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 is interesting as it runs contrary to what Trump tweeted once a federal judge placed a nationwide stay on the 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 following 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 U.S. has a right to control who enters our country and to keep out those who would do us harm," he said, claiming there are currently 300 terrorism-related investigations the FBI is conducting into refugees.
Senior officials in the press call earlier refused to answer what nations those refugees came to the US from, making it unclear if 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 during 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 continued. "Despite their best efforts, I fully expect this executive order to have the same uphill climb in the courts that the previous version had."
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