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Donald Trump Removes Priority Clause For Christians In New Travel Ban

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President Donald Trump on Monday, March 6, 2017 retreated behind closed doors as he re-issued his travel ban executive order with significant concessions adopted after his first directive was halted by a firestorm of controversy and a fusillade of legal actions.

The new order exempts existing visa holders from travel limits and removes Iraq from the list of seven Muslim-majority countries whose citizens Trump barred from entering the U.S. in a hastily signed and chaotically implemented order issued just a week after he took office.

Reporters and press photographers were excluded as Trump signed the new directive Monday, although the White House released a photo on social media. Trump dispatched three members of his Cabinet officials to tout the new ban at a brief appearance before journalists a few blocks away, although no questions were taken there either.

“It is the president’s solemn duty to protect the American people and with this order, President Trump is exercising his authority to keep our people safe,” Secretary of State Rex Tillerson declared.

“Today’s executive order…will make America more secure and address long overdue concerns about the security of our immigration system,” Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly added. “We must undertake a rigorous review and are undertaking a rigorous review of our immigration vetting programs to increase our confidence in the decisions we make relative to visitors and immigrants that travel to the United States. We cannot risk the prospect of malevolent actors using our immigration system to take American lives.”

Many of the changes are designed to help the new order avoid the fate of Trump’s first directive, which was effectively blocked by a series of court rulings.

The new order will put a 90-day hold on issuance of visas to citizens of six countries: Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. It also stops refugee admissions worldwide for 120 days.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions said Justice Department lawyers will vigorously defend the new order, which he insisted is well within Trump’s authority.

“The Department of Justice believes that this executive order, just as the first executive order, is a lawful and proper exercise of presidential authority,” Sessions said at the joint appearance with Tillerson and Kelly.

The revised directive also removes language that appeared to give priority to Christian refugees applying from predominantly Muslim countries. That passage was part of what courts seized on to conclude that Trump’s original order was a thinly-veiled version of the “Muslim ban” Trump repeatedly discussed on the campaign trail.

Read the full article at Politico.

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