Trump removes Iraq from list of banned Muslim countries

President signs new order

Steve Holland

Donald Trump has removed Iraq from his controversial list of Muslim countries whose nationals are banned from travelling to the US.

A revised executive order keeps the 90-day ban on travel by citizens of Iran, Libya, Syria, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen.

It applies only to new visa applicants, meaning 60,000 people whose visas were revoked under the previous order will now be permitted to enter.

Critics said the new ban failed to address their key concerns.


Legal experts said it would, however, be harder to challenge because it affects fewer people living in the US and allows more exemptions to protect them.

Mr Trump, who proposed the ban during his presidential campaign, said his original order was a national security measure to head off attacks by Islamist militants.

It sparked chaos and protests at airports, where visa holders were detained and deported. The ban was suspended by a judge on February 3.

After Mr Trump signed the order, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said: "As threats to our security continue to evolve and change, common sense dictates that we continually re-evaluate and reassess the systems we rely upon to protect our country."

Democrats, a minority in Congress, quickly signalled fierce opposition to what they called a discriminatory ban.

"The Trump administration's repackaging has done nothing to change the immoral, unconstitutional and dangerous goals of their Muslim and refugee ban," said Nancy Pelosi, the minority leader of the House of Representatives.

Farhana Khera, of Muslim Advocates, a civil rights group in Washington, said the Trump administration had "doubled down" on anti-Muslim bigotry.

"It's crystal clear this is a Muslim ban," she told reporters.

Some Republicans who had been critical of Trump's original order were more positive about the new one.


Bob Corker, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said he was "very encouraged" by the approach and was pleased Iraq was removed from the list.

"By rescinding his earlier executive order, President Trump makes one thing perfectly clear: his original travel ban was indefensible - legally, constitutionally and morally," said Attorney General Bob Ferguson of Washington State.