US President Donald Trump’s new travel order will drop Iraq from the list of mostly Muslim nations whose citizens will be barred from entry to the US for 90 days, according to a White House official.
Trump has delayed issuing the new directive, which was to be signed Wednesday, until at least Friday, said the official, who asked not to be identified discussing the policy decision ahead of its announcement. The order is a revision of a travel ban imposed 27 January that was blocked by federal courts.
Trump has described the revised order as an urgent national security matter, but it has been repeatedly delayed without much explanation.
White House press secretary Sean Spicer told reporters at a daily briefing on Wednesday that the process has been slowed by consultations with federal agencies that would carry out the order. He declined to say when the new order would be issued.
The postponement allows more time for the administration to build political momentum from Trump’s address to Congress Tuesday before public attention shifts to a new version of the travel ban.
Trump and his aides previously had said the threat to the U.S. was so pronounced that they couldn’t take the time for extended consultations across government before issuing an order. Trump’s initial travel ban set off a weekend of chaos at airports and border crossings as hundred of people were detained or delayed in being admitted to the country.
“The problem is we would’ve wasted a lot of time, and maybe a lot of lives because a lot of bad people would’ve come into our country,” Trump said at a 16 February press conference, defending his decision to issue the initial order.
Spicer described the urgency in catastrophic terms on 31 January.
“We don’t know when the next terrorist is going to enter this country. We don’t know when the next bomb’s going to go off,” Spicer said. “And the last thing that you want to do is to say well we could’ve done this Saturday, but we waited one more day. Or we wanted to roll it out differently. And someone’s life got lost.”
The ban on entry by Iraqi citizens caused consternation for a key US ally in the fight against Islamic State. At least one translator who worked with the US military in Iraq was detained at the border under the initial order, fueling additional criticism.
The revised order will initially keep out citizens of Yemen, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya and Somalia for three months while the government determines whether people from those countries can be sufficiently vetted for terrorist sympathies, the official said.
The new order will also alter treatment of Syrian refugees, who had been banned indefinitely under the original order. They will now face the same 120-day ban as refugees from other countries, the official said. Bloomberg