The newly elected US President, Donald Trump on Monday signed a long-awaited new travel ban as the FBI is currently investigating 300 people admitted as refugees for links to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.
The ban was immediately met with threats of legal action. New York’s attorney general, Eric Schneiderman, said he was scrutinizing the new order and was ready to challenge it.
He maintained that while the White House may have made changes to the ban, the intent to discriminate against Muslims remains clear. “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”, he warned.
Mr Trump signed the executive order into effect on Monday following conference calls from his staff explaining the provisos in the law.
At the same time, the department of homeland security told congressmen that the FBI was investigating 300 people admitted as refugees for links to the so-called Islamic State (IS). The 300 refugees were part of 1,000 counterterrorism investigations involving Islamic State or individuals inspired by the militant group, congressional sources said. No details were given as to the cases, or the time frame.
But the news was clearly timed to boost support for Mr Trump’s travel ban.
According to his executive order, all refugee arrivals will be stopped for a period of 120 days. Unlike in the previous text, Syrian refugees are not singled out for a permanent ban on entry.
Furthermore, citizens from the affected six countries will, from March 16, be prevented from entering the United States, unless they have previously been granted a visa.
Iraq has been dropped from the list of six countries – now only citizens of Iran, Syria, Sudan, Somalia, Libya and Yemen are banned.
And the new ban does not priorities entry for “persecuted minorities” – a proviso which critics said unfairly blocked the entry of Muslims.
Mr Trump’s first attempt to implement a travel ban, in January, was a chaotic series of announcements, clarifications, wrongful detentions, protests and court cases that culminated in an appeals court ruling that it was unlawful. Nigeria – a country that’s not on the list – on Monday warned its citizens not to travel to the US after many were ordered home at the airport.
But this time around, the administration was determined to ensure that the roll-out of the ban was smooth.
Rex Tillerson, the secretary of state, on Monday, in a press conference reassured US allies that the measures would be implemented in an “orderly” way.
“As threats to our security continue to evolve and change, common sense dictates that we continually reevaluate and reassess the systems we rely upon to protect our country,” he said.He also maintained that while no system can be made completely infallible, the American people can have high confidence we are identifying ways to improve the vetting process and thus keep terrorists from entering our country.
“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 explained that the decision to drop Iraq from the list of countries was due to an “intense review” of security procedures, and a realisation that the state department and the government of Iraq were already working on a rigorous screening programme.
Jeff Sessions, the attorney general, gave reasons why the government felt the ban was necessary, stating that “the majority of people convicted in our courts for terrorism-related offenses since 9/11 came here from abroad.”
He added: “The department of justice believes that this executive order, just as the first executive order, is a lawful and proper exercise of presidential authority.”
John Kelly, the homeland security chief, said: “Unregulated, unvetted travel is not a universal privilege, especially when national security is at stake.”
The roll-out was supported by most Republicans – even those who initially criticised the first attempt.
Paul Ryan, speaker of the house, praised it while Lindsey Graham, a Republican senator known for his scathing response to many of Mr Trump’s actions, said he thought it would withstand legal challenges.
“It’s drafted in a fashion as to not be a religious ban, but a ban on individuals coming from compromised governments and failed states,” he added. “This executive order will help achieve President Trump’s goal of making us safer.”
Bob Ferguson, the attorney general for Washington state – who successfully challenged Mr Trump’s initial travel ban in court – said the president “has capitulated on numerous key provisions blocked by our lawsuit.”
They include banning legal permanent residents, visa holders and dual citizens from entering the country, as well as explicit preferences based on religion.
But critics of the travel ban were not impressed by the new wording. Amnesty International described it as “wrong-headed and counter-productive.”
Source: Yahoo News.