President Donald Trump signed a new executive order Monday that bars travelers from six Muslim-majority nations from entering the United States.
The temporary ban removes Iraq from the list of countries covered in a previous order announced January 27. The new order bars travelers from Iran, Syria, Somalia, Sudan, Yemen and Libya for 90 days. It also prevents all refugees from entering the United States for 120 days.
U.S. officials said Iraq was removed from the list after Iraqi officials promised to increase cooperation with U.S. officials on vetting procedures.
The new restrictions will take effect March 16. They will not affect legal permanent residents - those with green cards - or travelers who already had valid visas as of January 27.
The new order comes after a federal judge in the state of Washington blocked the earlier ban in a ruling last month.
Trump signed the order Monday in private. The order was announced jointly by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly.
Kelly said the order is meant to prevent enemies from using American freedoms and generosity to cause harm to U.S. citizens.
“Today’s executive order - which president Trump signed this morning - will make America more secure, and address long overdue concerns about the security of our immigration system.”
The original travel ban caused confusion at many U.S. airports when Homeland Security officials attempted to interpret how it should be carried out. Some travelers were detained before being sent back overseas or blocked from getting on airplanes abroad. The order quickly became the subject of several legal challenges.
Monday’s order left out an earlier requirement indefinitely barring Syrian refugees. Language giving preference to "religious minorities" was also removed.
Critics of the original order questioned whether the Muslim-majority countries were targeted for religious reasons. A senior official from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) denied this on Monday. "This is not a Muslim ban in any way, shape or form,” the official said.
President Donald Trump has called for stronger vetting procedures to keep out dangerous individuals and terrorists. His administration has said some refugees - as well as immigrants and travelers from certain countries - could pose a security risk to the U.S.
The White House released information Monday saying "terrorism related investigations" were currently underway by the FBI involving at least 300 individuals who came to the U.S. as refugees. When pushed for details, the senior DHS official did not comment further, but said the cases were "truly an alarming number.”
With the latest order, the Trump administration is aiming to survive new court challenges. Attorney General Sessions said his department was committed to defending the order, which he called “a lawful and proper exercise of presidential authority.”
“This Department of Justice will defend and enforce lawful orders of the president, consistent with the core principles of our constitution.”
Groups opposed to the first order are likely to object to the new order as well. In a statement Monday, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) said the revised restrictions have “the same fatal flaws as the original.”
U.S. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York, criticized the new travel order, calling it a “watered down” ban.
“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,” Schumer said.
I’m Bryan Lynn.
William Gallo and Victoria Macchi reported on this story for VOA. Bryan Lynn adapted the story for Learning English, with additional material from the Associated Press. Hai Do was the editor.
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Words in This Story
vetting – n. investigating someone’s background thoroughly
generosity – n. quality of being kind, not selfish
confusion – n. state in which people do not understand what is going on
indefinitely – adv. for a period of time that does not end
alarming – adj. causing a feeling or sense of concern or danger
core – adj. more important or basic
principle – n. rule or belief that guides one’s behavior
flaw – n. a small fault or weakness
repeal – v. officially eliminate a law