President Trump signed an executive order Monday ordering new travel restrictions for residents of six Muslim-majority countries as well as a temporary ban on refugees from around the world. This directive comes after Trump's original executive order was rebuked in the federal courts.
The new ban, which takes effect March 16, halts travel for 90 days for residents of Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. The refugee suspension will last 120 days.
President Trump’s revised travel ban retreats on nearly every issue that triggered chaos in airports and lawsuits in federal courts across the nation.
It will not apply to foreign students, engineers, tourists and relatives who are traveling to this country or temporarily traveling aboard. It is “prospective in nature — applying only to foreign nationals outside of the United States who do not have a valid visa,” said Homeland Security Secretary John F. Kelly.
But many critics of the first order were not declaring victory. Instead, they said they would go back to court and argue the order should still be struck down because it discriminates against Muslims.
A staple of President Trump’s early flurry of executive actions was the big reveal – the president seated behind a desk proudly displaying his new edict for the cameras.
On Monday, though, when Trump signed a second order temporarily halting travel from nations deemed to pose a high risk to U.S. security, there was no show of the president affixing his jagged penmanship to an official document. Instead, three Cabinet secretaries spoke publicly blocks from the White House.
Gone was the immediate implementation that triggered chaos the first time, replaced with a 10-day preparation period.
Both the public unveiling of the new directive and private machinations leading up to it revealed how the Trump administration was course-correcting after stumbles in its tumultuous early weeks. And sidetracked again this weekend by Trump’s unsubstantiated claims that President Obama illegally ordered surveillance of his communications during the campaign, the administration found value in demonstrating it could function relatively routinely.
Liberal and conservative legal experts, including those who served in Democratic and Republican presidential administrations, said President Trump's new travel ban has a better chances of surviving legal challenges when compared to his first executive order, which has been held up in federal courts.
Here's what a few of them told the Los Angeles Times:
The new travel ban is tainted by all the same evidence of religious discrimination that doomed the old travel ban. It affects fewer people, and people with fewer ties to the United States, so that makes judicial intervention a bit harder. On the other hand, the way the Trump administration manipulated the roll-out of the new ban according to the ebb and flow of the news cycle undermines the administration's demand for deference on the topic of national security.
I think the new order will withstand judicial scrutiny. Because it grants admission to all existing visa holders and permanent resident aliens, it is difficult to see who has standing to challenge this order.... Aliens outside our territory with no pre-existing connection to the U.S. do not have rights under the Constitution that can be recognized in court. This time, the order explicitly relies on the findings of the last administration and the agencies that the six nations in question are state sponsors of terrorism or are countries where terrorist [activities] are matters of high concern. The editing out of special exceptions for Christian minorities undermines criticism that this order arises from anti-religion bias. It will be much harder to show connections between anti-Muslim statements made during the campaign and the motives behind this order...
This is certainly better drafted than the prior version, especially with regard to not excluding those who have the lawful right to be in the United States. But it still designates majority Muslim countries where there is no linkage to terrorism in the United States. This still runs afoul of the 1965 Immigration Act, which prohibits discrimination based on national origin. And based on prior statements of President Trump that Christians would be allowed in, this still can be challenged as a Muslim ban. Put simply, it corrects some of the problems courts found with the prior executive order, but many of the serious problems remain.
The new travel limitation is clearly more defensible as it follows the roadmap of concerns raised by the 9th Circuit [Court of Appeals]. Thus, it can be reasonably argued that the facial invalidity of the last order has been addressed and corrected. Of course, an order can be fine on its face and still be improperly applied. Moreover, it can be legitimately asked -- given existing vetting procedures -- whether an executive order is needed at all, but that is a judgment for the president. In matters of foreign affairs, the judiciary will defer to the president so long as his actions have a conceivable rational basis and do not transgress either the Constitution or statutory limitation.
The Iranian government, which is often given to flowery denunciations of the "Great Satan," as it calls the United States, reacted mildly to President Trump's new travel ban, which includes Iran among the six nations whose citizens are suspended from entering the United States for 90 days.
Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qasemi said Tehran would wait and see the details of the new executive order and "would react in proportion."
"However, we have already taken our stance regarding the first executive order and it has been released."
In reaction to that travel ban, which was eventually suspended by a court, Iran banned U.S wrestlers from participating in a Freestyle World Cup competition in Iran, where wrestling is a major sport.
Texas Atty. Gen. Ken Paxton has hailed President Trump's new executive order limiting refugee immigration and travel from six majority-Muslim countries.
“The executive order issued today by President Trump is a direct response to an ongoing weakness in the refugee vetting process, which was identified to Congress by multiple federal officials, but left unaddressed by the Obama administration," Paxton said in a statement.
"In light of the looming threat of terrorism, the president has both the constitutional authority and solemn duty to take reasonable steps in securing our border. President Trump’s action shows decisiveness in answer to a very real danger, and I appreciate his efforts to protect the safety and security of Texans and all Americans."
Paxton had also spoken out for the first travel ban. He filed a brief in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in support of it after the Trump administration appealed a Seattle federal judge's Feb. 3 order calling for a nationwide halt to the first ban.
On Feb. 9, a panel of three judges from the 9th Circuit refused to reinstate the travel ban.
For Adnan Dabdoob, a 40-year old Syrian construction worker living in Amman, Jordan, the original ban had already ruined his plans to emigrate to Pennsylvania with his wife and five children.
“We were ready to travel, we did a medical test and finished everything. We were supposed to wait a maximum one month," he said in a phone interview.
"Then it was back to zero, like when we first came to Jordan."
Since then, he has not been able to find work, he said, because no employer is willing to take a chance on someone liable to leave the country at any moment. The new ban, meanwhile, has only added to his misery.
“No one knows anything. The embassy hasn’t said anything, and the organizations working for us are waiting for three more months before they know what to do with everyone,” he said.
“It’s not just a matter of three months. The problem is we still don’t know what happens after, and all our waiting might be for nothing. We have no guarantees that things will return to what they were.… This could stretch out for years.”
A conservative Christian organization that has filed arguments in court supporting President Trump's first travel ban hailed the new executive order that pauses refugee immigration and travel to the U.S. by nationals of six majority-Muslim countries.
"This to me is a bulletproof order," Jay Sekulow, chief counsel for the American Center for Law and Justice, said Monday on his radio show.
Nonetheless, "I do think there will be challenges," Sekulow added.
The center had strongly defended Trump's initial executive order, calling it the "proper and constitutional way to protect America" after the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals refused to overturn a national hold on the first order.
Speaking on the show, American Center for Law and Justice Executive Director Jordan Sekulow, who is Jay Sekulow's son, said he didn't believe the argument of the travel order being a "Muslim ban" holds.
"We're talking about six countries," Jordan Sekulow said, observing that the majority of predominantly Muslim countries were left off the travel ban.
Gold Star father Khizr Khan has canceled a scheduled speech in Toronto after being told his "travel privileges are being reviewed," according to the event organizer.
Khan has lived in the U.S. since 1980 and is a naturalized U.S. citizen.
It was unclear which authorities communicated with Khan or what privileges were under review. Yolanda Choates, a spokesperson for U.S. Customs and Border Protection, declined to comment about Khan specifically.
She said in and email that the agency would notify people who were losing their membership in the Global Entry program -- which allows pre-screened travelers to speed through customs upon arriving in the country -- though there's no indication that is what happened to Khan.
“Of course, any U.S. citizen with a passport may travel without trusted traveler status,” she said.
Khan could not be reached for comment, and the event organizer, Ramsay Talks, did not respond to an email, text message or phone message.
Khan was scheduled to speak Tuesday at a luncheon hosted by the Toronto-based organization.
The two-hour event was slated to include a presentation and question-and-answer session on "what we can do about the appalling turn of events in Washington -- so that we don’t all end up sacrificing everything," according to the organizer.
In a statement posted on Facebook, the organizer said Khan was not told why his travel status was under review.
"This turn of events is not just of deep concern to me but to all my fellow Americans who cherish our freedom to travel abroad," Khan said in the statement. "I have not been given any reason as to why. I am grateful for your support and look forward to visiting Toronto in the near future."
Khan, whose family is Muslim, made national headlines after his fiery speech at the Democratic National Convention, during which he blasted Donald Trump's rigid stance on Muslim immigration.
"Donald Trump, you're asking Americans to trust you with their future. Let me ask you, have you even read the United States Constitution?" Khan said before pulling a pocket Constitution from his jacket. "I will gladly lend you my copy. In this document, look for the words 'liberty' and 'equal protection of law.'"
Khan immigrated to the U.S. from Pakistan in 1980. He and his wife, Ghazala, became American citizens six years later.
Their son Humayun Khan was killed by a suicide bomber in Iraq in 2004. The Army captain was running toward a taxi cab approaching his troops when a bomb inside exploded. Khan was killed while the other soldiers remained safe.
Khan received the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star posthumously.
6:02 p.m.: This story was updated with information about Trusted Traveler programs.
This story was originally published at 1:12 p.m.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations, one of the first groups to announce it was suing the Trump administration after the first travel ban was signed on Jan. 27, issued a stern condemnation of President Trump's new executive order on immigration and refugees on Monday.
"This executive order, like the last order, is at its core a Muslim ban, which is discriminatory and unconstitutional," Nihad Awad, CAIR executive director, said in a statement.
Lena Masri, an attorney for the organization, said in a statement that the new travel ban is "merely a retooled order aimed at the same long-stated goal of banning Muslims from entering the United States."
CAIR filed suit against the original executive order on in U.S. District Court in Alexandria, Va., on Jan. 30 in the case Sarsour vs. Trump. The case argues that the first executive order is unconstitutional because it violates the 1st Amendment's guarantee of religious freedom and the 5th Amendment's equal protection rights.
Iranian Americans joined a chorus of criticism Monday over President Trump's revised travel ban, saying at its core that it continued to target Muslims.
“Make no mistake," the National Iranian American Council said. "The new Muslim ban is still an unconstitutional ban that targets individuals based on their religion and nationality.
"And it is still a ban that undermines rather than enhances America’s security," the Washington-based advocacy group said.
It blamed the first version of the ban for a spate of hate crimes across the country and said countless Iranian families will no longer be able to visit relatives in the U.S. if the new measure is enacted.
Major human rights organizations echoed the objections. Margaret Huang, executive director of the U.S. branch of Amnesty International, said the order represented "the same hate and fear with new packaging" and "blatant bigotry."
"It will cause extreme fear and uncertainty for thousands of families by, once again, putting anti-Muslim hatred into policy," she said, and will do nothing to make the country safer."
The New-York-based Human Rights Watch said the changes announced Monday were "merely cosmetic."
Advocates for refugees swiftly denounced President Trump’s revised executive order that temporarily suspends the refugee resettlement program as a discriminatory and inhumane measure that threatened the nation’s long-standing commitment to protect people fleeing violence and persecution.
Refugee Council USA, a coalition of U.S. non-governmental organizations that advocates on behalf of refugees, condemned the order as a “harmful and ill-considered” action that “singles out the most vetted, most vulnerable people.”
“The order does nothing to improve our national security and will have painful human consequences,” Hans van de Weerd, chair of RCUSA said in a statement. “It will separate families and leave tens of thousands of people – mostly women and children – exposed to grave danger and despair."
“RCUSA urges the administration to reconsider its course, consult experts on the already-thorough vetting system, and consider improvements, but to do so without stalling and drastically reducing one of the world’s strongest refugee resettlement programs," he added.
Human Rights First, an international, nonprofit human rights organization based in New York City and Washington, D.C, also criticized the newly revised order, arguing that halting refugee resettlement threatened to damage national security and betray U.S. ideals of protecting people who are persecuted abroad.
"This order is essentially religious discrimination masquerading, once again, in the language of national security,” Eleanor Acer, a senior director at Human Rights First, said in a statement. “The order targets people from Muslim-majority countries and will sharply reduce resettlement of Muslim refugees. Legal word-smithing cannot obscure the discriminatory intent and impact of the order.”
The attorney general of Washington state, whose case against President Trump's initial travel ban brought that planl to a halt, said Monday that his office is considering its "next legal steps" concerning the administration's new travel order.
"By rescinding his earlier executive order, President Trump makes one thing perfectly clear: His original travel ban was indefensible — legally, constitutionally and morally," Atty. Gen. Bob Ferguson said in a statement.
“The president has capitulated on numerous key provisions blocked by our lawsuit, including bans on Green Card holders, visa holders and dual citizens, an indefinite ban on Syrian refugees, and explicit preferences based on religion," he said. "We are carefully reviewing the new executive order to determine its impacts on Washington state and our next legal steps."
Ferguson said he would have more to say later Monday.
After Washington and Minnesota sued against the first travel ban in a Seattle federal court, U.S. District Judge James L. Robart issued a national restraining order on Feb. 3 blocking its enforcement until the constitutionality of the order could be decided. That restraining order was upheld by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals after the administration challenged it.
In response to those rulings, Trump said the new executive order would be "tailored" to the "bad" decisions.
The Seattle case is still pending.
Imam Ahmed Rakan Ahmed was preparing for evening prayers Monday at his mosque in East Mosul, Iraq, when he heard about the revised travel ban signed by President Trump.
Militants had forced him to flee with his family when they captured the city but he returned and reopened the mosque in December. Many of the families it serves are poor, but they have been gathering donations for those worse off as fighting has shifted to the city's west side.
"The executive order, for the Mosulawi people, it's not important for us. What's important for us is what's happening on the west side of Mosul, those displaced people who are suffering," the Muslim spiritual leader said as the call to prayer sounded.
"On the military side, America did a lot, and we are thankful for that," he said, but added that the U.S. should have stayed long enough after its invasion of Iraq to prevent Islamic State from forming. "America is responsible. It's their duty to protect us."
The American Civil Liberties Union, which went to court over the first travel ban, described the new executive order as "still a Muslim ban."
"The Trump administration has conceded that its original Muslim ban was indefensible. Unfortunately, it has replaced it with a scaled-back version that shares the same fatal flaws. The only way to actually fix the Muslim ban is not to have a Muslim ban," Omar Jadwat, director of the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project, said in a statement.
"Instead, President Trump has recommitted himself to religious discrimination, and he can expect continued disapproval from both the courts and the people," Jadwat said.
“What's more, the changes the Trump administration has made, and everything we've learned since the original ban rolled out, completely undermine the bogus national security justifications the president has tried to hide behind and only strengthen the case against his unconstitutional executive orders.”
President Trump's revised travel ban brought swift criticism from Democrats in Congress on Monday, while Republicans who largely back the White House approach remained notably silent.
Most Republicans have supported Trump's efforts to halt visitors from several predominantly Muslim countries entering the United States. But GOP lawmakers endured blowback after the administration's botched rollout of its initial travel ban in January, which erupted in protests and airport disruptions in cities across the nation. Lawmakers heard complaints from businesses, colleges and residents, and Republicans responded more cautiously this time.
"I look forward to reading the details of the president’s new executive order and conducting oversight to ensure it is implemented smoothly," said the Republican chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, Rep. Michael McCaul of Texas.
Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) did not immediately comment.
Democrats, though, wasted no time blasting the executive order that they say will do little to protect the country from terrorism and sends a discriminatory message to refugees and migrants around the world.
"A watered-down ban is still a ban," said Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) "Despite the administration’s changes, this dangerous executive order makes us less safe, not more; it is mean-spirited, and un-American. It must be repealed."
Added Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.): “A rebranded Muslim ban is still a Muslim ban, plain and simple."
"This is not who we are," said Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.).
Abu Hasan, a commander of popular mobilization forces fighting to free Mosul from Islamic State, was standing at a checkpoint on the outskirts of the city at dusk when he heard about President Trump's revised travel ban.
"The people of Iraq suffered a lot of terrorism. The order was wrong, wrong, wrong," he said of the original travel ban that included Iraq. "We are defending not just Iraq but the world against Islamic State. Hopefully our relationship with the Americans will develop and we will have an alliance against terrorism."
Ahmed Galadi, 30, a federal police officer with the emergency response division fighting in West Mosul, was encouraged by the revised ban, which he called "a secure decision."
Galadi, a father of two, worked with U.S. forces for years and has paid a steep price. In 2009, his twin brother was killed while driving his car, shot in the head by a militia member who mistook him for Galadi.
"My family doesn't know I'm working with Americans now. If they did, they would say, 'Once the Americans go, where will you go? Because the militias will kill you,'" he said.
He knows of scores of other Iraqis who worked with U.S. forces and were later killed in his native Diwaniyah, south of Baghdad.
He wants the option of fleeing to the U.S. if needed, especially for his wife, 12-year-old son and 7-year-old daughter, "like a back door."
He said the earlier travel ban for Iraq needed to be lifted "for all those who work with Americans. We should have an opportunity because we are the guys who want to make Iraq better."
Two lines near the bottom of President Trump's new travel order wiped away his original ban, an apparent attempt to end court battles over his first directive that sparked widespread protests.
Trump's new travel restrictions are more narrowly tailored to avoid the type of judicial censure that followed the initial action signed Jan. 27 in Trump's first week in office.
"Executive Order 13769 of January 27, 2017, is revoked as of the effective date of this order," the new order reads.
Rachel Ramey and her Iraqi husband applied for a U.S. visa almost a year ago. She was shocked by the first travel ban, which suspended travel for Iraqis and still felt "nervous" after hearing about the revised ban.
"What if we get to the airport and have everything together and they say, 'No, we're denying you,'" said Ramey, 33, a teacher, from her home in the northern city of Sulaymaniyah.
She said the revision was "encouraging" but until the vetting process is spelled out, "It's just more delay."
"There doesn't seem to be much clarity on whether the process was paused or is this going to be another six months," said Ramey, who is trying to return home to the U.S. with her husband to start a family.
The couple have been married two years and have already provided documentation of their relationship to U.S. officials, Ramey said, including old love letters.
Justin Cox, a lawyer at the National Immigration Law Center who took the Trump administration to court over the first travel ban and won a hold almost immediately from a Brooklyn federal judge, said he sees little "substantive" difference between the old ban and the new one.
Cox, who represents plaintiffs in Darweesh vs. Trump, a case that is still pending in the courts, said his organization is ready to fight the new ban.
"This new ban is just tinkering on the edges of the old one. But the underlying legal claims against it don't change that much," said Cox.
Cox said his group and others will "absolutely" be able to sue over the new order.
"What is more challenging is finding folks who clearly have standing" to sue, he said.
That's because the new order exempts people with green cards from the ban, doesn't state a preference for refugees who are religious minorities and will not go into effect immediately, leaving fewer chances for the chaos over admission and detention of visa holders at U.S. airports that came with the previous order.
Still, Cox said, it's "time to go to court" over the new order.
The Darweesh case was filed in U.S. District Court in Brooklyn, N.Y., on behalf of two Iraqis who had been approved for resettlement in the U.S. but were detained at John F. Kennedy airport because of the first travel ban. Iraqis are not included in the new executive order.