US President Trump signs new travel ban order, Iraq dropped from list

This file photo taken on January 23, 2017 shows US President Donald Trump signing an executive order. Photograph:( AFP )

WION New Delhi, Delhi, India Mar 06, 2017, 04.45 PM (IST)

US President Donald Trump today signed a new travel ban order. It bars travel to the US for 90 days from six predominantly Muslim countries — Sudan, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia and Yemen, according to a Department of Homeland Security fact sheet. It excludes Iraq, which was on the original list.

The order, which takes effect on March 16, does not restrict legal permanent residents, or green card holders, from re-entering the US, Department of Homeland Security said.

The White House said Trump signed the order - which temporarily freezes new visas for Syrians, Iranians, Libyans, Somalis, Yemenis and Sudanese citizens - behind closed doors "this morning", AFP reported.

The order places a 120-day freeze on all refugee arrivals.

Officials told AFP that unlike in the initial January 27 executive order, all pre-existing, valid visas from the six countries would be honoured.

"The motivating factor here is a desire for greater security," senior State Department official told AFP.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called the executive order "a vital measure for strengthening our national security."

Attorney General Jeff Sessions added at a joint press conference that it "responsibly provides a needed pause so we can carefully review how we scrutinize people coming here from these countries of concern."

"Three of these nations are state sponsors of terrorism," Sessions added, referring to Iran, Sudan and Syria, adding that others had served as "safe havens" for terror operatives.

The first version temporarily closed US borders to all refugees and to citizens from seven mainly Muslim countries.

The State Department initially cancelled 60,000 visas, and hundreds of people were reportedly detained at US airports.

The new order explicitly exempts Iraqis, legal permanent residents and valid visa holders.

Trump's first order had sparked a legal, political and logistical furor. 

There was chaos at major airports and mass protests while several district courts moved to block its implementation and lawmakers expressed opposition.

(WION with agency inputs)