President Trump on Monday signed a revised executive order suspending the refugee program as well as entry to the U.S. for travelers from six mostly Muslim countries, curtailing what was a broadly worded directive in a bid to withstand court scrutiny.
As before, the order will suspend refugee entries for 120 days. But it no longer will suspend Syrian refugee admissions indefinitely.
The new order also will ban travelers from six countries who did not obtain a visa before Jan. 27 from entering the United States for 90 days. The directive no longer includes Iraq, as the original order did, but covers immigration and travel from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.
Iraq, a key U.S. ally in the fight against ISIS, was removed from the travel ban list after Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said he spoke with the Iraqi government about its vetting process and felt that the screening system was thorough enough to stand on its own.
Trump privately signed the new order Monday while Tillerson, Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly formally unveiled the new order in an event with reporters. They took no questions. The first version of the order, by contrast, was unveiled during a presidential signing ceremony at the Pentagon’s Hall of Heroes.
Tillerson defended the new order on Monday, saying Trump is using “his rightful authority” to keep people safe.
“This order is part of our ongoing efforts to eliminate vulnerabilities that radical Islamic terrorists can and will exploit,” he added.
Kelly said the new executive order “will make America more secure.”
“Unvetted travel isn’t a privilege especially when national security is at stake,” he said.