Almost a month after a federal court refused to reinstate Donald Trump’s controversial first executive order blocking travellers from seven Muslim-majority countries, the US President has issued a new travel ban.
Here are five things you need to know about the new executive order.
1. Iraq is no longer on the list of countries from which travellers are banned:
The list now includes Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. There will be a 90-day hold on issuing visas to citizens of these six countries, a condition similar to the one in the order signed by Trump on January 27.
Iraq, included in the original ban, is described in the new order as a “special case” whose commitment to combat the Islamic State justifies it for “different treatment”. It was removed from the list because it has given “firm commitments” about increased cooperation in terms of information that will enhance the ability of the US to vet or screen Iraqi nationals, a Homeland Security official told the media.
2. Existing visas and valid green cards will be honoured by the US:
Travellers from the six countries on the list and refugees who already have US visas will not be affected by the new order. “No visas will be revoked solely based on this executive order,” a statement from the White House said.
The original ban’s lack of clarity on existing visas led to chaos at airports and resulted in about 60,000 visas being revoked. The 90-day period applies only to people from the six countries on the new list seeking fresh US visas.
3. No preferential treatment for religious minorities:
The new order mentions nothing to suggest that Christians facing religion-based persecution will be given preference while applying as refugees. The earlier order had instructed the state department to “prioritise refugee claims made by individuals on the basis of religious-based persecution, provided that the religion of the individual is a minority religion in the individual’s country of nationality”. That provision had created the impression that the US was prioritising Christians and lent credence to claims that the original order was a “Muslim ban”.
4. The new order will take effect only on March 16:
The new ban will come into effect on March 16 and authorities will have 10 days to prepare for its implementation. This will also give citizens of the six countries on the new list 10 more days to apply for visas. “You should not see any chaos…or alleged chaos at airports…”There aren’t going to be folks stopped tonight from coming into the country pursuant to this executive order,” a homeland security official told the media.
5. Syrian refugees no longer singled out:
The earlier order blocked the entry of Syrian refugees to the US indefinitely. Now, they will face the same 120-day temporary ban applicable to refugees from around the world. Refugees who have already been approved by the state department will be allowed to enter the US.