President Donald Trump is expected to sign an executive order on Monday instating an updated travel ban on several majority-Muslim countries, according to multiple news reports. The new order has been anticipated for several weeks, since the president announced that he would not continue to fight a February court ruling that suspended his original ban. [See below for updates: leaked fact sheet says ban will go into effect March 16th.]
While the exact contours of the ban have yet to be confirmed, Reuters reports that Iraq will be excluded due to its status as an American ally in fighting the Islamic State. According to the New York Times, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson also discussed Iraq's vetting processes with that government, and deemed them adequate.
Six other countries included in the initial ban—Iran, Libya, Syria, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen—remain, according to reports.
The new order will ban refugees from impacted countries, according to the Times, though it is unclear for how long. It will also reportedly drop special restrictions on Syrian refugees, who were indefinitely barred from the United States under the earlier iteration. Refugees from other countries were initially banned for 120 days.
Green card and visa holders will also not be impacted, according to the Times' sources. Numerous visa holders were detained in late January, in the chaos that followed the first travel ban. In the hours after that order was signed, protesters and immigration lawyers rushed to airports across the country to support and assist impacted travelers.
A group of immigration lawyers that occupied John F. Kennedy Airport's Terminal 4 in January are planning to return today to assist travelers, according to lead organizer Camille Mackler, Director of Legal Initiatives at the New York Immigration Coalition.
"We'll be there as soon as the announcement is made and, if they delay implementation by a couple of weeks, back when it actually goes into effect," Mackler told Gothamist on Sunday.
A Facebook post from #NoBanJFK, the lawyer group, reminds all refugees that Customs and Border Control is legally obligated to offer a "credible fear" interview to anyone who is afraid to return to their home country. CBP "cannot send you home until they do so," according to the post.
The Department of Homeland Security did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
President Trump has consistently defended the travel ban as a necessary security measure against possible terror attacks.
A recent internal report from the Department of Homeland Security found that the countries targeted by Trump's travel ban don't pose an outsize terrorism threat. According to the report, "country of citizenship is unlikely to be a reliable indicator of potential terrorist activity."
[Update 11:20 a.m.]: A DHS fact sheet obtained by Just Security and published also by the Washington Post states that the travel ban will go into effect at 12:01 a.m. on March 16th, Eastern Standard Time.
The ban will impact all foreign nationals from the six impacted nations who are outside the US and did not have a visa by 5:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time on January 27th, according to the fact sheet. The sheet also states that only refugees "whose travel was already formally scheduled by the Department of State" will be granted entry under the ban. The refugee ban will last for 120 days, and refugee applications with be suspended during that time, with "case-by-case" exemptions.
Case-by-case exemptions will be offered if the person's entry is "in the national interest, will not pose a threat to national security, and that denying entry during the suspension period will cause undue hardship," according to the sheet.
The fact sheet also states that Iraq is exempt from the travel ban. According to the sheet, the refugee ban is justified because "some of those who have entered the United States as refugees have also proved to be threats to our national security."
Attorneys said they are en route to JFK as of 11:30 this morning, fact sheet notwithstanding. DHS did not immediately comment on the leaked memo.
[Update 12:10] The text of the executive order is now online, and confirms numerous earlier reports about its contents. Iran, Lybia, Somalia, Syria and Sudan are all listed as "countries of particular concern," and the United States will not accept travelers from them for 90 days while the Secretary of Homeland Security and Director of National Intelligence "shall conduct a worldwide review to identify whether, and if so what, additional information will be needed from each foreign country to adjudicate an application by a national of that country for a visa, admission, or other benefit" according to the text of the order. The order will apply to any travelers who don't have a visa and are outside of the country starting on March 16th, the day that the order goes into effect, but an exception is made for "lawful permanent residents" of the United States.
The order presents an exception for travelers from Iraq, but also contains a directive that "decisions about issuance of visas or granting admission to Iraqi nationals should be subjected to additional scrutiny to determine if applicants have connections with ISIS or other terrorist organizations."
In addition, the order states that the "Secretary of State shall suspend travel of refugees into the United States under the USRAP, and the Secretary of Homeland Security shall suspend decisions on applications for refugee status, for 120 days" in order for the Trump administration to build what they say is a more stringent refugee review process. The order also promises that states and local jurisdictions will have more of a say in the resettlement of refugees, "to the extent permitted by law and as practicable."
The order states that the travel restrictions won't go into effect until March 16. The order also states that "no immigrant or nonimmigrant visa issued before the effective date of this order shall be revoked pursuant to this order."
The ACLU tweeted that the travel ban was still a Muslim ban, and put out a statement in which they said that the new ban has "the same fatal flaws" as the original one:
— ACLU National (@ACLU) March 6, 2017
The Trump administration has conceded that its original Muslim ban was indefensible. Unfortunately, it has replaced it with a scaled-back version that shares the same fatal flaws. The only way to actually fix the Muslim ban is not to have a Muslim ban. Instead, President Trump has recommitted himself to religious discrimination, and he can expect continued disapproval from both the courts and the people.
What's more, the changes the Trump administration has made, and everything we've learned since the original ban rolled out, completely undermine the bogus national security justifications the president has tried to hide behind and only strengthen the case against his unconstitutional executive orders.
Additional reporting by David Colon