Donald Trump is preparing to sign a new executive order today that White House officials hope can withstand legal scrutiny that will ban travelers from six majority-Muslim nations who did not obtain a visa before January 27 from entering the United States for 90 days, according to a fact sheet the administration sent to Congress.
In addition, the nation’s refugee program will be suspended for 120 days, and it will not accept more than 50,000 refugees in a year, down from the 110,000 accepted last year by the Obama administration.
The order, which is to go into effect March 16, represents an attempt by the Trump administration to tighten security requirements for travelers from nations that officials said represent a terrorism threat. A more sweeping attempt in January provoked mass protests across the country as travelers en route to the United States were detained at airports after the surprise order was announced.
A federal district judge in Washington state first suspended the travel ban February 3, and a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit later upheld that freeze.
That setback was a blow to the White House, which was criticized for failing to include lawmakers and stakeholders in its deliberations.
The new guidelines name six of the seven countries included in the first executive order, but it leaves out Iraq. That nation will increase cooperation with the United States on additional security vetting under separate negotiations and its citizens are not subject to the new order, the fact sheet states.
The new order provides other exceptions not contained in previous versions: for travelers from those countries who are legal permanent residents of the United States, dual nationals who use a passport from another country, those attending diplomatic missions, and those who have been granted asylum or refugee status.
“The United States has the world’s most generous immigration system, yet it has been repeatedly exploited by terrorists and other malicious actors who seek to do us harm,” the fact sheet stated.
The Department of Homeland Security was preparing to release the order publicly on Monday morning under an embargo. The Washington Post received the documents separately from an immigration lawyer who obtained them from a member of Congress.
The new order drew condemnation from immigrant rights advocates.
“The president has said he would ban Muslims, and this revised version – in these preliminary fact sheets – still does that, even if they have removed Iraq from the list,” said Gregory Chen, director of advocacy for the American Immigration Lawyers Association. “In its oral argument before the 9th Circuit, the government was unable to provide any evidence to the 9th Circuit that acts of terrorism had been committed by the nationals of seven countries initially designated. That was an embarrassment, but now weeks later, in these preliminary fact sheets, they still have not explained why people from these countries pose risk to America’s national security.”
(c) 2017, The Washington Post · David Nakamura