President Donald Trump on Monday signed a new version of his controversial travel ban, aiming to withstand court challenges while still barring new visas for citizens from six Muslim-majority countries and shutting down the U.S. refugee program.
The revised travel order leaves Iraq off the list of banned countries but still affects would-be visitors from Iran, Syria, Somalia, Sudan, Yemen and Libya.
Trump privately signed the new order Monday while Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Attorney General Jeff Sessions formally unveiled the new edict. The low-key rollout was a contrast to the first version of the order, signed in a high-profile ceremony at the Pentagon‘s Hall of Heroes as Secretary of Defense James Mattis stood by Trump’s side.
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer was not scheduled to hold an on-camera briefing Monday either, leading to the appearance that the president was distancing himself from the order, which was a signature issue during his campaign and the first days of his presidency. The order also risks being overshadowed by unsubstantiated accusations the president made over the weekend that former President Barack Obama had ordered the wiretapping of his phone during the campaign.
The original travel ban caused immediate panic and chaos at airports around the country as Homeland Security officials scrambled to interpret how it was to be implemented and 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 and was ultimately put on hold last month by a federal judge in Washington state. That ruling was upheld by a federal appeals court.
The revised order is narrower and specifies that a 90-day ban on people from the six countries does not apply to those who already have valid visas or people with U.S. green cards.
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