Trump signs new executive order on immigration

  • 07/03/2017

It could be history repeating for United States President Donald Trump, with his newly revised travel ban also facing threats of legal action.

Mr Trump has signed the revised order, which temporarily halts entry to the US for people from six Muslim-majority nations who are seeking new visas, and suspends the country's refugee programme.

That's according to White House spokesperson Michael Short, who says the signing was done privately.

The new directive aims to address legal issues with the original order, which caused confusion at airports, sparked protests around the country and was ultimately blocked by federal courts.

Now New York's Attorney General, Eric Schneiderman, is scrutinising the changes, looking for reasons to attempt to scupper the ban.

"While the White House may have made changes to the ban, the intent to discriminate against Muslims remains clear," Mr Schneiderman said in a statement. "This doesn't just harm the families caught in the chaos of President Trump's draconian policies - it's diametrically opposed to our values, and makes us less safe.

"My office is closely reviewing the new executive order, and I stand ready to litigate - again - in order to protect New York's families, institutions, and economy."

Following the initial order made in Mr Trump's first days as President, Mr Schneiderman filed a suit against it and led a coalition of Attorneys General which opposed it in courts across the US.

The revised order is narrower and specifies that a 90-day ban on people from Sudan, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia and Yemen does not apply to those who already have valid visas.

The White House also dropped Iraq from the list of banned countries.

Trump privately signed the new order on Monday while Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Attorney General Jeff Sessions formally unveiled the new edict.

At a news conference, Mr Tillerson sought to assure the country's allies the new measures would be rolled out in an "orderly" way.

"To our allies and partners around the world, please understand this order is part of our ongoing efforts to eliminate vulnerabilities that radical Islamist terrorists can and will exploit for destructive ends."

He said dropping Iraq from the revised order followed "intense review" and the realisation the two governments were already working on a similar screening programme.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions said the new order, "just as the first executive order, is a lawful and proper exercise of presidential authority".

It was welcomed by Republicans who had opposed the first order, including Lindsey Graham who now believes the changes would stand up to legal scrutiny.

The low-key rollout was a contrast to the first version of the order, signed in a high-profile ceremony at the Pentagon's Hall of Heroes as Secretary of Defense James Mattis stood by Trump's side.

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer was not scheduled to hold an on-camera briefing on Monday (local time) either, leading to the appearance that the President was distancing himself from the order, which was a signature issue during his campaign and the first days of his presidency.

The original travel ban caused immediate panic and chaos at airports around the country as Homeland Security officials scrambled to interpret how it was to be implemented, and travellers were detained before being sent back overseas or blocked from getting on planes abroad.

The new order risks being overshadowed by unsubstantiated accusations the President made over the weekend that former President Barack Obama had ordered the wiretapping of his phone during the campaign.

Meanwhile, the FBI is investigating 300 refugees for possible links to Islamic State, the Department of Homeland Security told Congress.

They were part of 1000 counter-terrorism investigations involving the extremist group or those inspired by them.

Reuters / Newshub.