Iraq to be dropped from new US travel ban

Iraq to be dropped from new US travel ban

President Donald Trump’s new immigration order is expected to remove Iraq from the list of countries whose citizens face a temporary US travel ban.

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

Four US officials told The Associated Press that the decision followed pressure from the Pentagon and State Department, which had urged the White House to reconsider Iraq’s inclusion 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. Those bans are effective for 90 days.

The new order includes other changes. 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, according to the report

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

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

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

The State Department provisionally revoked roughly 60,000 valid visas, 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, all existing visas will be honoured.

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

In his first address to a joint session of Congress last night, Trump said: “We will shortly take new steps to keep our nation safe and to keep out those who would do us harm.”

After Trump signed the original order, Iraqi prime minister Haider al-Abadi refuted the ban and said he would consider reciprocal measures.

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