He signed a new executive order banning immigration from six Muslim-majority countries
US President Donald Trump has signed a new executive order today banning immigration from six Muslim-majority countries.
The latest travel ban has notably dropped Iraq from the list of countries barred from entering the United States, and covers Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen.
Iraq will "increase cooperation with the US government on the vetting of its citizens applying for a visa to travel to the United States," according to a fact sheet from the Trump administration.
White House adviser Kellyanne Conway said on Fox and Friends that the order will make clear that lawful permanent residents are excluded from any travel ban.
"If you have travel docs, if you actually have a visa, if you are a legal permanent resident, you are not covered under this particular executive action," Conway said. "Also, Iraq is no longer on the list based on their enhanced screening and reporting measures."
All refugees will be be barred for 120 days. The previous version had banned Syrian refugees indefinitely.
The administration told reporters that: "(The order is) not any way targeted as a Muslim ban..we want to make sure everyone understands that.
"When it comes to refugees, the new order does not prioritize religious minorities when considering refugee admissions cases."
Mr Trump's previous order affecting citizens of seven mainly-Muslim countries was overturned by US courts.
In a related development, Nigeria has warned its citizens not to travel to the US and says Nigerians with valid visas have been put on the next plane home.
Nigeria is not one of the six mainly-Muslim nations whose citizens are included in Donald Trump's new travel ban.
While the original ban went into affect immediately to 'prevent terrorists from rushing into the country', the revised travel ban will be phased in after ten days.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, unveiling the order, said: "The executive order is a vital measure for strengthening our national security.
"This review over the past month has identified multiple security measures that the State Department and the government of Iraq will be implemented to achieve our shared objective of preventing those of criminal or terroristic intent from reaching the United States.
"This revised order will boost the security of the United States."
Administration officials also told reporters that the executive order will contain information from the FBI that 300 people who entered the US as refugees are "currently the subjects of counter-terrorism investigations."
No media was present during today's signing at the White House, an administration official confirmed to CNN. Press Secretary Sean Spicer tweeted a photo of Trump signing the order.
According to a senior US official, Iraq was removed from the revised travel ban executive order after intensive lobbying from the Iraqi government at the highest levels.
Kellyann Conway also said on Fox and Friends that "Iraq is no longer on the list based on their enhanced screening and reporting measures."
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said today that "Iraq is an important ally in the fight to defeat ISIS, with their brave soldiers fighting in close co-ordination with America's men and women in uniform.
In the full text of today's executive order on immigration, it said that each of the countries included in the ban "is a state sponsor of terrorism, has been significantly compromised by terrorist organizations, or contains active conflict zones."
It added that "once foreign nationals from these countries are admitted to the United States, it is often difficult to remove them, because many of these countries typically delay issuing, or refuse to issue, travel documents."
According to the executive order, the following brief descriptions of the countries demonstrate why their nationals continue to present heightened risks to the security of the United States:
Iran: Iran has been designated as a state sponsor of terrorism since 1984 and continues to support various terrorist groups, including Hizballah, Hamas, and terrorist groups in Iraq.
Iran does not cooperate with the United States in counterterrorism efforts.
Libya: Libya is an active combat zone, with hostilities between the internationally recognized government and its rivals. Violent extremist groups, including the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), have exploited these conditions to expand their presence in the country.
Somalia: Portions of Somalia have been terrorist safe havens. Al-Shabaab, an al-Qa’ida-affiliated terrorist group, has operated in the country for years and continues to plan and mount operations within Somalia and in neighboring countries.
Sudan: Sudan has been designated as a state sponsor of terrorism since 1993 because of its support for international terrorist groups, including Hizballah and Hamas.
Although Sudan’s support to al-Qa’ida has ceased and it provides some cooperation with the United States’ counterterrorism efforts, elements of core al-Qa’ida and ISIS-linked terrorist groups remain active in the country.
Syria: Syria has been designated as a state sponsor of terrorism since 1979. The Syrian government is engaged in an ongoing military conflict against ISIS and others for control of portions of the country. At the same time, Syria continues to support other terrorist groups.
It has allowed or encouraged extremists to pass through its territory to enter Iraq. ISIS continues to attract foreign fighters to Syria and to use its base in Syria to plot or encourage attacks around the globe, including in the United States.
Yemen: Yemen is the site of an ongoing conflict between the incumbent government and the Houthi-led opposition. Both ISIS and a second group, al-Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), have exploited this conflict to expand their presence in Yemen and to carry out hundreds of attacks.