Revamped Immigration Plan More Precise, Concise, Kelly Says

  • U.S. order will be ‘tighter, more streamlined’ than original
  • Measure will make sure no one is caught up in it while flying

President Donald Trump’s revised executive order on immigration will be “more streamlined” than its predecessor, U.S. Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly said, as the administration seeks a way to avoid the ensnaring of lawful U.S. entrants that led to parts of the original edict being blocked by federal courts.

It’s a “good assumption” that the new order won’t affect people holding valid visas or green cards and will be phased in “to make sure that there’s no one in a sense caught in the system of moving from overseas to our airports, which happened on our first release,” Kelly told a panel at the Munich Security Conference in Germany on Saturday.

The Trump administration is struggling to keep its pledges of heightened screening of immigrants from certain Middle Eastern and African countries to prevent potential terrorists from entering the U.S., while not causing the same kind of chaos seen at U.S. airports in January, when people cleared for entry before departure arrived to learn they weren’t allowed in.

The Jan. 27 measure barred Syrian refugees from the U.S. indefinitely, and blocked for 120 days all refugees fleeing their homelands claiming persecution or fear of violence. Citizens of seven countries -- Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen -- were barred from entering the U.S. for 90 days.

For a QuickTake on how Trump may fix the travel ban, click here.

Blanket denials of admission prompted the filing of a lawsuit in Seattle, where a U.S. judge issued a nationwide ban on enforcement of those parts of the order deemed likely to harm to residents of the suing states of Washington and Minnesota. After a federal appeals court upheld that temporary order, a longer-lasting one was issued by an Alexandria, Virginia, judge, which applied to people in that state.

Trump, at a press conference on Thursday, said he planned to issue a new decree “tailored” to address the concerns raised by the San Francisco-based appellate court, which he maintains issued a “very very bad decision.” Justice Department lawyers later confirmed those plans in a court filing abandoning a U.S. bid to rehear the case.

The revised executive order will be issued in the coming week, Trump said. It will almost certainly trigger a fresh round of legal challenges on a topic that has riveted the nation and sparked turmoil around the globe over the past two weeks.

Reliable Vetting

In Munich, Kelly emphasized that the original order was just a pause to allow the new administration look into the vetting process in place in the seven countries in question. The updated measure will have a “phase-in” mechanism “to make sure that people on the other end don’t get on airplanes,” Kelly said.

“This again is just a pause, until we look at a number of countries, seven in particular, and look at their vetting processes, how reliable they are -- and I can tell you right now they’re not very reliable -- and find ways to vet in a more reliable way,” Kelly said.

In denying the Trump administration challenge to Seattle federal court Judge James Robart’s Feb. 3 order, the San Francisco-based appeals court rejected administration claims that the court had no power to review a presidential immigration policy decision -- even one motivated by national security concerns.

“There is no precedent to support this claimed unreviewability, which runs contrary to the fundamental structure of our constitutional democracy,” the three-judge panel said in its Feb. 9 ruling.

Trump has criticized Robart, 69, a President George W. Bush appointee, as a “so-called judge,” and at Thursday’s press conference said, without providing evidence, that the San Francisco circuit is “in chaos.”

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