On Monday morning, President Donald Trump softened the edges of his cutting immigration ban, formally called Executive Order 13769. Trump’s revised order removes Iraqis from the original embargo and scraps the language that favored religious minorities (aka Christians) over the region’s religious majority (aka Muslims).
This revision has thus far been less sensationalized than the original, being signed in private instead of in front of legions of reporters. These revisions come roughly a month after federal judges blocked Trump’s impulsive ban on residents from seven Middle Eastern and African countries. These revisions now only ban immediate travel from six countries, with Iraq being left off. In addition, the revisions no longer affect citizens who’ve already been vetted and granted visas. These edits are being regarded as an obvious response to the international outrage of the original ban—and one that attempts to satisfy Trump’s initial campaign while avoiding scrutiny from federal judges.
Notably, rather than immediate enactment, these changes are set to begin on March 16 and will be implemented over a few weeks to avoid the similar chaos caused by the original ban. While the new order still bans new refugees for 120 days, Syrians, who were bluntly refused admission indefinitely, will now be treated as equals in regards to admittance. The new order bans visitors from Syria, Sudan, Iran, Somalia, Libya and Yemen for 90 days.
As Trump will never confess to his own faults, this is likely the closest we’ll get to an apology.
The revision’s removal of Iraq came after talks with security officials in Baghdad who felt the ban would understandably undermine the stability of the United States-allied government, which is considered a “key ally” in the fight against ISIS. “On the basis of negotiations that have taken place between the Government of Iraq and the U.S. Department of State in the last month, Iraq will increase cooperation with the U.S. Government on the vetting of its citizens applying for a visa to travel to the United States,” Homeland Security officials wrote to reporters. As such, the Iraqis agreed to improve the quality of travel documentation and to be more open with information regarding potentially dangerous nationals.
In a conference call with reporters on Monday morning, officials with Homeland Security, the State Department and the Department of Justice defended Mr. Trump’s original order and said the rewrite is intended to address legal concerns and to quickly deal with what they repeatedly characterize as an urgent national security threat. In other words, the revised order is more PR-friendly. “The vast majority of individuals convicted of terrorism and terrorism-related offenses since 9/11 came here from outside of our country,” the president said in true hyperbolic fashion last Tuesday. “We cannot allow a beachhead of terrorism to form inside America.”
Despite these bold claims that have become synonymous with our newly appointed president, the revised travel ban is evidence of the first major retreat by Trump on one of his most significant policies in his White House residency. As he’ll never confess to his own faults, this is likely the closest we’ll probably ever get to an apology.