President Trump’s new executive order on immigration will not include a blanket ban on citizens from Iraq, among a host of other revisions meant to allay legal and diplomatic concerns, people familiar with the matter said.
The White House late Tuesday scrapped plans for Trump to sign a revised travel ban Wednesday afternoon, a person familiar with the matter said, marking the third time the administration has put off the matter since the president said that dangerous people might enter the country without a prohibition in place.
But when it is signed, people familiar with the matter said, the order is still expected to include a host of significant changes. The order will also exempt current visa holders and legal permanent residents, and it will not impose a blanket ban on those from Iraq, where U.S. forces are working with the Iraqis to battle the Islamic State. It will not include an exception for religious minorities, which critics had pointed to as evidence it was meant to discriminate against Muslims. And it will not go into effect immediately when it is signed, people familiar with the matter said.
The decision to delay signing the order came as people on Twitter and elsewhere heaped praise on Trump for his speech Tuesday night to a joint session of Congress. A CNN poll, for example, showed that 7 in 10 people who watched said the address made them feel more optimistic about the direction of the country, and about two-thirds said the president has the right priorities for the nation. The pool of those who watched the speech was about eight points more Republican than the total population.
It was not immediately clear why the White House canceled plans to ink the new executive order, although a White House official did not deny that optics were part of the calculus. “We want the [executive order] to have its own ‘moment,’” an official told the network. A White House spokesman did not immediately return messages seeking comment.
Trump’s original executive order, now frozen by the courts, had barred citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries and all refugees from entering the United States. When it was implemented, the State Department provisionally revoked tens of thousands of visas, and some people who were in transit when it took effect were detained or deported once they reached U.S. airports.
A senior official said on Feb. 22 that the order would be delayed another week, as officials worked to make sure it would be implemented smoothly. The president was slated to sign the order Wednesday, but now, it seems, it will have to wait again. How long is unclear.