Thursday 23 November 2017

'New travel ban will be orderly and just,' says Trump's team

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson announcing the new travel ban in Washington DC. Photo: Getty
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson announcing the new travel ban in Washington DC. Photo: Getty

Harriet Alexander New York

Donald Trump signed a long-expected new travel ban yesterday as it emerged that the FBI is investigating 300 people admitted as refugees for links to Isil.

Mr Trump is hoping to avoid a repeat of his disastrous previous attempt to limit arrivals, and staged a well-scripted announcement of the plan, signing the executive order into effect following conference calls from his staff explaining the provisos in the law.

The 300 refugees were part of 1,000 counter-terrorism investigations involving Isil or individuals inspired by the militant group, congressional sources said after the announcement by the department of homeland security. No details were given.

According to Mr Trump's executive order, all refugee arrivals will be stopped for a period of 180 days. Unlike in the previous text, Syrian refugees are not singled out for a permanent ban on entry and the new ban does not prioritise entry for "persecuted minorities" - a proviso which critics said unfairly blocked the entry of Muslims.

Citizens from Iran, Syria, Sudan, Somalia, Libya and Yemen will, from March 16, be prevented from entering the US, unless they have previously been granted a visa. Iraq has been dropped from the previous list of banned countries.

Mr Trump's first attempt to implement a travel ban, in January, was a chaotic series of announcements, wrongful detentions, protests and legal action that culminated in an appeal court ruling that it was unlawful.

This time round Rex Tillerson, the secretary of state, used a press conference to reassure allies the ban would be implemented in an "orderly" way.

"While no system can be made completely infallible, the American people can have high confidence we are identifying ways to improve the vetting process and thus keep terrorists from entering our country," he said.

He explained that the decision to drop Iraq from the list of countries was partly due to a realisation that the state department and the government of Iraq were already working on a rigorous screening programme.

Jeff Sessions, the attorney general, then laid out why the government felt the ban was necessary, stating that "the majority of people convicted in our courts for terrorism-related offences since 9/11 came here from abroad".

Criticised

Yesterday's rollout was greeted with approval by most Republicans - even those who criticised the first attempt. Lindsey Graham, a senator known for his scathing attacks on Mr Trump, said he thought it was legally safe.

"It's drafted in a fashion as to not be a religious ban, but a ban on individuals coming from compromised governments and failed states," he said.

However, other organisations were scathing of the new ban.

Amnesty International described it as "wrong-headed and counter-productive", while Eric Schneiderman, New York's attorney general, said he was scrutinising the new order and stood ready to challenge it. (© Daily Telegraph London)

Irish Independent

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