Legal experts say President Donald Trump's revised Executive Order banning citizens from six Muslim-majority nations from travelling to the United States will be harder to challenge in court.
The new order, which takes effect on March 16, removed Iraq from the list but keeps a 90-day ban on travel to the United States by citizens of Iran, Libya, Syria, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen. It applies only to new visa applicants, meaning some 60,000 people whose visas were revoked under the previous order will now be permitted to enter.
Immigration advocates said the new ban still discriminated against Muslims and failed to address some of their concerns with the previous order. Legal experts, though, said it would be harder to challenge because it affects fewer people living in the US and allows more exemptions to protect them.
Trump had said his original January 27 Executive Order was a national security measure meant to head off attacks by Islamist militants.
It sparked chaos and protests at airports, where visa holders were detained and later deported back to their home countries. It also drew criticism from targeted countries, Western allies and some leading US corporations before a US judge suspended it on February 3.
Democrats, a minority in Congress, yesterday signalled fierce opposition to what they called a discriminatory ban.
"The Trump Administration's repackaging has done nothing to change the immoral, unconstitutional and dangerous goals of their Muslim and refugee ban," House of Representatives Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi said.
Farhana Khera, executive director of Muslim Advocates, a civil rights group in Washington, said the Trump Administration had "doubled down on anti-Muslim bigotry".
But some Republicans who had been critical of Trump's original order were more positive on the new one.
Bob Corker, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said he was "very encouraged" by the approach and pleased that Iraq was removed from the list.
Iraq was taken off the banned list because the Iraqi Government has imposed new vetting procedures, a senior White House official said.
Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said he expected the revised order to have the same uphill battle in the courts as the original.
Legal experts said the fact that the ban affects fewer people already in the US means it will be more difficult for opponents to find plaintiffs who have been harmed by the order and thus have legal standing to challenge it.
"They dotted their I's and crossed their T's in trying to anticipate what litigation might result," said Stephen Yale-Loehr, a Cornell Law School professor.