Iraqis ex­empt in new ban,

Austin American-Statesman - - FRONT PAGE - By Matt Zapotosky and Abi­gail Haus­lohner Wash­ing­ton Post

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s new ex­ec­u­tive or­der on im­mi­gra­tion will not in­clude a blan­ket ban on cit­i­zens from Iraq, among a host of 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, a per- son 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 ban.

But when it is signed, the or­der is still ex­pected to in­clude a host of sig­nifi- cant changes, peo­ple famil- iar with the mat­ter said. The or­der will ex­empt cur­rent visa hold­ers and le­gal per- ma­nent 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.

When the ini­tial ban was im­ple­mented, some peo­ple who were in tran­sit were de­tained or de­ported once

they reached U.S. air­ports, spark­ing large demon­stra­tions against the or­der.

The peo­ple said the sit­u­a­tion re­mains fluid and changes re­main pos­si­ble. Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend, com­man­der of the U.S.-led coali­tion in Iraq and Syria, said he, too, had heard Iraq would not be in­cluded in the re­vised or­der, though he also had heard the oppo- site. Asked if he had con­cerns about Iraq’s pos­si­ble in­clu- sion in the new ex­ec­u­tive or­der, he praised the coun­try as “our part­ner and ally.”

“They are pro­tect­ing us here, and we’re fight­ing this en­emy that threat­ens all of our coun­tries to­gether,” Townsend said.

Ear­lier, he had said the Iraqis’ re­ac­tion to the first ban was “pretty level-headed and so­phis­ti­cated,” and that the se­cu­rity forces with whom he dealt — while “re­lieved when the ex­ecu- tive or­der was sus­pended” — re­mained fo­cused on their mis­sion.

“Now they’re wait­ing to see how that may play out here in the fu­ture,” Townsend said.

It was not im­me­di­ately clear why the White House can­celed plans to sign the new ex­ec­u­tive or­der, although CNN re­ported that a White House of­fi­cial said the ad­min­is­tra­tion wants the or­der “to have its own ‘mo­ment.’” A White House spokesman did not im­medi- ately re­turn mes­sages.

Trump’s orig­i­nal ex­ecu- tive or­der, now frozen by the courts, had tem­po­rar- ily barred cit­i­zens of seven Mus­lim-ma­jor­ity coun­tries — Iraq, Iran, Syria, So­ma­lia, Su­dan, Libya and Ye­men — and all refugees from en­ter- ing the United States.

Although courts have dis­agreed, the pres­i­dent has in­sisted that the ban is nec­es­sary for na­tional se­cu­rity rea­sons. He wrote on Twit- ter that, be­cause a fed­eral judge in Wash­ing­ton state had or­dered it frozen, “many very bad and dan­ger­ous peo- ple may be pour­ing into our coun­try.” He also sug­gested that if some­thing were to hap­pen, the court sys­tem would be to blame.

Since then, the Jus­tice Depart­ment has asked courts to de­lay lit­i­ga­tion while a new or­der is drafted. The pres­i­dent said on Feb. 10, a Fri­day, that he was con­sid­er­ing writ­ing a new or­der and that he prob­a­bly would take some ac­tion the fol­low­ing Mon­day or Tues­day. He did not write a new or­der by then, and on Feb. 16, a Thurs­day, he said he would do so the fol­low­ing week. Again, he did not, and a se­nior ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cial said on Feb. 22 that the or­der would be de­layed an­other week, as of­fi­cials worked to make sure it would be im­ple­mented smoothly.

How long the lat­est de­lay will last is un­clear.

The de­lays a nd the re­moval of Iraq from the list of blocked coun­tries could un­der­mine the ad­min­is­tra­tion’s ar­gu­ment about the ne­ces­sity of the ban. Judges and oth­ers had al­ready been skep­ti­cal of the ar­gu­ment that the ad­min­is­tra­tion needed to im­pose a ban for na­tional se­cu­rity rea­sons, and U.S. Dis­trict Judge Leonie Brinkema said at a court hear­ing there was “star­tling ev­i­dence” from na­tional se­cu­rity pro­fes­sion­als that the or­der “may be coun­ter­pro­duc­tive to its stated goal” of keep­ing the na­tion safe. A re­cent Depart­ment of Home­land Se­cu­rity re­port said citizenship is an “un­re­li­able” threat in­di­ca­tor and that peo­ple from the seven coun­tries af­fected by the ban have rarely been im­pli­cated in U.S.-based ter­ror­ism.

The Jus­tice Depart­ment said Wed­nes­day that it had won con­vic­tions “against over 500 de­fen­dants for ter­ror­ism or ter­ror­ism-re­lated charges in fed­eral courts,” and a “re­view of that in­for­ma­tion re­vealed that a sub­stan­tial ma­jor­ity of those con­victed were born in for­eign coun­tries.” A depart­ment spokes­woman de­clined to pro­vide the raw data.

It was not im­me­di­ately clear why the White House can­celed plans to sign the new ex­ec­u­tive or­der.

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