Trump Administration to Unveil Replacement for Controversial Travel Ban

The new regulations would not have a set end date, and countries could be added or removed any time

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International passengers arrive at Washington Dulles International Airport in Virginia, June 26, 2017.
International passengers arrive at Washington Dulles International Airport in Virginia, June 26, 2017. Credit: JAMES LAWLER DUGGAN/REUTERS

President Donald Trump is considering a new order to replace his soon-to-expire travel ban on people from six Muslim-majority countries that would be tailored on a country-by-country basis to protect the United States from attacks, U.S. officials said on Friday. 

With the current ban on people from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen due to expire on Sunday, Trump was given recommendations by Elaine Duke, the acting homeland security secretary, but has not yet made a decision on the details of any new order, the officials told reporters. 

Miles Taylor, counselor to Duke, said she recommended to Trump "actions that are tough and that are tailored, including travel restrictions and enhanced screening for certain countries." Taylor declined to say which or how many countries would be targeted, including the status of the six countries covered by the current ban. 

White House spokesman Raj Shah said that while "we can't get into decision-making," the next step will be a presidential proclamation setting out the new policy. He declined to say when that would come, including whether Trump would act before the existing ban expires.  

The new rules would not have a stated end date, with countries facing the potential of being added or removed from the list at any time, according to the Journal, which cited people familiar with the process. 

The Department of Homeland Security's plan would replace U.S. President Donald Trump's earlier executive order that banned travelers from six Muslim-majority countries and limited refugee admissions. The March 6 order suspended travel for people from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen for 90 days and locked out most aspiring refugees for 120 days. 

That ban, which took effect in June, is now before the Supreme Court, where it faces a key hearing over its constitutionality in October. The 90-day ban expires on Sunday, while the refugee ban expires on October 24. 

Trump's administration has said the ban is critical to national security, while opponents have argued it violates the U.S. Constitution's religious protections. 

The first version of Trump's order, signed in January, sparked protests and chaos at airports worldwide before it was blocked by U.S. courts. The administration replaced it with a new version in March in response to the legal challenges. 

"The Trump administration will ensure we only admit those who can be properly vetted and will not pose a threat to national security or public safety," a White House official said when asked about the Journal's story on Friday. 

The Supreme Court is due to hear oral arguments in the challenge to the March 6 order on October 10.

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