Matthew Lee, Vivian Salama
The Chicago Tribune
March 1st, 2017
President Trump’s new immigration order will remove Iraq from the list of countries whose citizens face a temporary US travel ban, US officials say, citing the latest draft in circulation.
Trump is expected to sign the executive order in the coming days.
Four officials told the AP that the decision followed pressure from the Pentagon and State Department, which had urged the White House to reconsider Iraq’s inclusion on the list given its key role in fighting ISIS.
Citizens of six other predominantly Muslim countries—Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen—will remain on the travel ban list, the officials say.
The new order includes other changes as well.
The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to discuss the order before it’s signed, say 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.
President Trump phoned Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi on Thursday night amid an increasingly strained bilateral relationship following Trump’s executive order travel ban last month.
Iraq was on the list of seven Muslim-majority countries whose citizens were temporarily banned from entering the United States as a result of the controversial order.
But according to an official readout of Thursday’s call from the Iraqi prime minister’s office, the two world leaders may be finding some common ground.
The officials also say the order won’t include any explicit exemption for religious minorities in the countries targeted by the travel ban.
Critics had accused the administration of adding such language to help Christians get into the United States while excluding Muslims.
Unlike under the first order, existing visas will be honored, the officials say.