Thu, Mar 02, 2017 - Page 7 News List

Iraq said to be off Trump’s new travel ban

PREPARED:Airport officials and civil rights lawyers said they are getting ready for the new ban, including publicizing the Airport Lawyer Web site and mobile app


US President Donald Trump’s new immigration order will remove Iraq from the list of countries whose citizens face a temporary US travel ban, US officials say, citing the latest draft in circulation.

Trump is expected to sign the executive order in the coming days.

Four officials told reporters that the decision followed pressure from the Pentagon and US Department of State, which had urged the White House to reconsider Iraq’s inclusion on the list given its key role in fighting the Islamic State group.

Citizens of six other predominantly Muslim countries — Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen — will remain on the travel ban list, said the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the order before it is signed. Those bans are effective for 90 days.

The new order includes other changes as well.

The officials said the 12-page document no longer singles out Syrian refugees for an indefinite ban and instead includes them as part of a general, 120-day suspension of new refugee admissions.

The officials also said the order will not include any explicit exemption for religious minorities in the countries targeted by the travel ban.

Critics had accused the administration of adding such language to help Christians get into the US while excluding Muslims.

The White House did not respond to a request for comment

Trump signed his original executive order in late January. It sparked immediate confusion, panic and outrage as some travelers were detained in US airports before being sent back overseas and others were barred from boarding flights at foreign airports.

The federal government initially blocked US green card holders before offering those legal residents special permission to come into the country. It finally decided the order did not apply to them.

The State Department provisionally revoked about 60,000 valid visas in all, before a federal judge in Washington state blocked the government from carrying out the ban.

The 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals upheld that decision.

Under the revised order, officials said, all existing visas will be honored.

The Trump administration’s changes to the immigration order follow a report by intelligence analysts at the US Department of Homeland Security, which found insufficient evidence that citizens of the seven Muslim-majority countries posed a terror threat to the US.

In related news, airport officials and civil rights lawyers around the US are getting ready for Trump’s new ban — mindful of the chaos that accompanied his initial executive order, but hopeful the forthcoming version will be rolled out in a more orderly way.

Since last month’s ban, a section of the international arrivals area at Dulles International Airport outside Washington has been transformed into a virtual law firm, with legal volunteers ready to greet travelers from affected countries and ask if they saw anyone being detained.

Similar efforts are underway at other airports, including Seattle-Tacoma International, where officials have drawn up plans for crowd control after thousands crammed the baggage claim area to protest the original ban.

“The plan is to be as ready as possible,” said Lindsay Nash, an immigration law professor at Cardozo School of Law in New York City who has been helping prepare emergency petitions on behalf of those who might be detained.

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