US President Donald Trump has signed a newly revised travel ban order, exempting Iraqi nationals and US permanent residents from the prohibition to enter the country.
The new order, which takes effect starting March 16, will apply a 90-day visa halt on citizens of six Muslim-majority countries: Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen. It also explicitly exempts US permanent residents and valid visa holders.
The new order comes after the controversies surrounding the original order, which was issued on January 27 and blocked by federal courts following protests and .
Attorney General Jeff Sessions said the order was required to provide “a needed pause” for US to review its relationship with travellers from “countries of concern”.
“We cannot compromise our nation’s security by allowing visitors entry when their own governments are unable or unwilling to provide the information we need to vet them responsibly, or when those governments actively support terrorism,” said Sessions.
The American Civil Liberties Union said it would try to block the new order in court, saying the latest revision still amounts to religious discrimination.
“President Trump has recommitted himself to religious discrimination, and he can expect continued disapproval from both the courts and the people,” said Omar Jadwat, ACLU’s Immigrant Rights Project director.
Democrats senator Bernie Sanders said the ban would instead jeopardise the safety of American citizens.
“This ban is a racist and anti-Islamic attempt to divide us up,” Sanders wrote in a statement. “This isn’t about keeping America safe. A president responsible for keeping our citizens safe would not hand over ideological ammunition to terrorists seeking new recruits to kill Americans.”
“A watered-down ban is still a ban,” said senator Chuck Schumer in a statement. “Despite the administration’s changes, this dangerous executive order makes us less safe, not more, it is mean-spirited, and un-American. It must be repealed.”