Barring any last minute changes, President Donald Trump will sign a revised travel ban that exempts current visa holders, according to a person familiar with the matter.
The revision marks a significant departure from the now-frozen first executive order, which temporarily barred refugees and citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States, and resulted in the State Department unilaterally revoking tens of thousands of visas. Justice Department lawyers hope the new order will be more likely to withstand legal challenges and will not leave any travelers detained at U.S. airports.
The new order also removes an exception to the refugee prohibition for religion minorities, the person said. Critics of the order had said that exception proved it was meant to discriminate on the basis of religion, because it allowed only Christians into the country.
The new order, the details of which were first reported by the Wall Street Journal, is expected to be signed Wednesday. The person who described it to The Post did so on the condition of anonymity because the administration had not authorized the release of details.
Exactly how the order will be implemented remains unclear. And while blocking only the issuance of new visas marks a substantial change, analysts have said that would not necessarily be enough to pass legal muster.
A spokesman for Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson, who had successfully sued to freeze the ban, said, “Our current stance is to wait and see the particulars, which could make all the difference.”
Lee Gelernt, the Deputy Director of the ACLU’s national Immigrants’ Rights Project, who is involved in a separate legal challenge, said, “If the new executive order contains a ban, we believe it is unconstitutional religious discrimination and will therefore continue our legal challenges.”
A federal district judge in Washington first suspended the travel ban Feb. 3, and a three-judge panel with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit later upheld that freeze. The Justice Department has since asked the courts to hold off on further litigation while a new executive order was crafted, though the Court of Appeals told them to press ahead with the case.
(c) 2017, The Washington Post · Matt Zapotosky