Donald Trump has been forced to water down his travel ban, removing a clause which appeared to give priority to Christians.
The ban on travel, migration and asylum from seven Muslim-majority countries now excludes Iraq from the list of countries affected.
The new US president yesterday signed a fresh executive order which removed a section in the original stating that some refugee claims could be prioritised ‘on the basis of religious-based persecution, provided that the religion of the individual is a minority religion in the individual’s country of nationality’.
This was interpreted as giving Christians priority when it came to travelling to the US.
The countries still affected are Libya, Sudan, Somalia, Yemen, Iran and Syria.
The new ban will last for 90 days and, unlike the last one signed on 27 January, does not apply to those with valid visas.
Further, the order does not suspend the resettlement of Syrian refugees indefinitely, but they are subject to the new order’s blanket ban of resettling refugees for 120 days.
The order will go into affect on 16 March in an attempt to avoid the chaos at airports that followed the previous order. ‘You should not see any chaos at airports,’ an official said. ‘There are not going to be folks stopped tonight at airports.’
However, the evangelical charity World Relief dismissed the new order as ‘more of the same’.
World Relief’s Chief Executive Officer, Tim Breene said: ‘The issuance of a new executive order on refugees and immigrants acknowledges that there were significant problems with the first executive order that caught up green card holders and others as they tried to enter to the United States. However, this new executive order does not solve the root problems with the initial order—the cutting of refugee admissions by 55 per cent and the inability for some of the world’s most vulnerable refugees to come to the United States. It is more of the same.’
Two weeks ago World Relief released a letter in support of refugees which was signed by 650 church leaders from across every State in the US. ‘The breadth of support of church leaders across the country is astonishing,’ said Arbeiter.
‘While we support our government in ensuring our safety and security, we believe that compassion and security do not have to be mutually exclusive. We believe that the order simply remains disproportionate. In our national experience, the actions mandated by this executive order are inconsistent with the security record established by the refugee program since its inception and even since 9-11.’
He added: ‘We stand with refugees. Standing with us are many thousands of American citizens in congregations and communities across the nation who have joined us in this cause. We will continue to appeal to churches throughout the US to continue to support refugees.’