Donald Trump has been forced to water down his Muslim ban, signing a new one thats excludes Iraq from the list of countries affected.
Trump triggered global outrage when he signed an order in January that, as well as suspending resettlement of Syrian refugees in the US, banned travel from seven Muslim countries: Libya, Sudan, Somalia, Yemen, Iran, Iraq and Syria.
Judges struck down the ban after a wave of protests across the world.
It sparked such confusion that staff at airports turned away people with Green Cards - foreign nationals who are permanent legal residents n the US.
On Monday, Trump signed a new order to ban travel to the US from six of the countries, excluding Iraq this time.
The new ban lasts for 90 days and does not apply to those with valid visas.
The order does not, unlike the first, suspend the resettlement of Syrian refugees indefinitely. But they are subject to the new order’s blanket ban of resettling refugees for 120 days.
The order will go into affect on March 16 in a bid to avoid the chaos at airports that followed the previous order.
“You should not see any chaos at airports. There are not going to be folks stopped tonight at airports,” the administration official said.
The new order also removes the section in the original stipulating that some refugee claims could be prioritised “on the basis of religious-based persecution, provided that the religion of the individual is a minority religion in the individual’s country of nationality”.
This was interpreted as an exception being made for Christians, since Trump has highlighted the plight of Christians in Muslim-majority countries numerous times.
He also justified the signing of the order in the first place by expressing the need to keep “radical Islamic terrorists” out of the U.S.
Iraq has said its removal from the ban sent a “positive message” for relations with the US.
How Trump’s new order is different
What changed in the new order:
Iraq removed from list of countries on the travel ban
Applies only to non-visa holders (anyone with a valid or multi-entry visa is exempt from the new order)
Will not go into effect until March 16 to avoid chaos
Exceptions for religious minorities removed
Refugee resettlement program banned for 120 days
Travel ban for citizens of some countries in effect for 90 days
Cap on refugee resettlement for fiscal year 2017 plummets from 110,000 to 50,000
The removal of Iraq is understood to have come as a result of pressure from the Pentagon, as Iraq is a crucial ally in the fight against the so-called Islamic State.
The new order is also expected to remove part of the previous order that gave preference to granting asylum to religious minorities from the seven countries, which fuelled suspicions the order was targeting Muslims.
Trump reacted angrily to his order being labelled a “Muslim ban”.
During his campaign, Trump pledged a “total shutdown” of Muslims travelling to the US.
Former New York mayor Rudy Guliani claimed Trump had approached him to ask how a “Muslim ban” could be implemented and told him to put together a commission to find “the right way to do it legally”.