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Trump travel ban: Five questions ahead of new executive order

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Protesters held a rally in a show of solidarity with American Muslims in Times Square in New York City on Sunday

President Donald Trump is expected to unveil an updated executive order this week reviving his bid to ban refugees and immigrants from seven mostly Muslim countries from entering the US.

The US courts have halted the implementation of his previous order, which sparked mass protests and confusion at airports.

Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly said over the weekend that the White House was working on a “tighter, more streamlined version of the first executive order”.

But how might the new order be different? Here are five questions that could determine its future.

Who will be affected?

The original order barred people from seven majority-Muslim countries – Iran, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Sudan and Libya – from entering the US for 90 days. It also halted refugee resettlement for 120 days and banned Syrian refugees indefinitely.

However, many questions remained about the detail of the ban. How would it affect people from the seven countries who were also permanent legal US residents? And what about people who already had US visas or dual nationality?

More on Trump’s travel ban

Speaking at the weekend, the head of Homeland Security, Mr Kelly, said the new version of the travel order would not prevent foreign nationals with either work visas or Green Card permanent residency permits from re-entering the United States. Nor would it affect foreign travellers already flying to the US when the order takes effect, he added.

Meanwhile, the Associated Press quoted a senior administration official on Monday as saying the new order would target people from the same seven countries. But it would no longer demand that border authorities singled out and rejected Syrian refugees when processing new visa applications.

This has not been confirmed and the draft could change before it is signed by the president.

How will it be implemented?

Media captionWashington Attorney General Bob Ferguson said the travel ban was adopted with “little thought, little planning, little oversight”

The original order triggered a lot confusion and uncertainty. Scores of people were detained at airports or in transit, with many more stranded or forced to return to where they came from.

US government officials complained that the roll-out had been chaotic, and there was a lack of guidance before the policy was announced on 27 January.

Mr Kelly said this time around, his department would ensure that “there’s no one… caught in the system of moving from overseas to our airports, which happened on the first release”.

He said there would be a “short phase-in period” and immigration officials would “make sure that people on the other end don’t get on airplanes”.

The impact on US embassies as well as airports and border crossings will be closely watched.

Will it answer legal questions?

The roll-out was one of the concerns that the US appeals court judges in San Francisco cited when they refused to reinstate the original ban earlier this month. They said the justice department had failed to show that the executive order gave enough “notice and a hearing prior to restricting an individual’s ability to travel”.

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Donald Trump hit out at judges who refused to reinstate his ban

Whether the “short phase-in period” described by My Kelly will be sufficient will be one thing that legal experts are likely to examine.

They will also ask whether the Trump administration can prove that the order is needed to keep the country safe.

In its ruling, the appeals court judges found “no evidence that any alien from any of the countries named in the order” had committed a terrorist attack in the US.

Meanwhile the exclusion of Syrians in January’s order was also problematic.

The Immigration and Nationality Act says no person can be “discriminated against in the issuance of an immigrant visa because of the person’s race, sex, nationality, place of birth or place of residence”.

Will it be a Muslim ban?

Media captionMuslim students on Trump ban: ‘I don’t belong here’

The fact that the countries included in the original ban are all majority Muslim lends weight to the critics’s argument that the order is “anti-Muslim”.

On 14 February, a US district judge in Virginia ruled the the ban was unconstitutional because it had religious bias at its heart.

A source quoted by CNN said that the new order would address religious discrimination issues by removing a particular section that said that refugees’ claims should 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”.

Mr Trump previously said priority should be given to persecuted Christians.

Will opponents continue to fight it?

President Trump’s hardline policies on immigration have sparked protests and several lawsuits around the country.

After the appeals court refused to reinstate his ban, Mr Trump tweeted: “Just cannot believe a judge would put our country in such peril. If something happens blame him and court system. People pouring in. Bad!”

But rather than taking his original order to the Supreme Court, he appears to have chosen what he previously described as a “brand new order”.

This does not seem to have quelled opposition. Fresh demonstrations are being organised and civil rights groups have said they will continue to challenge the order in the courts.

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