Iraq may be dropped from the group of countries whose citizens would be banned from visiting the U.S. when President Trump reissues his travel ban, sources tell CBS News.
While there is no decision yet, U.S. diplomats told CBS News’ Margaret Brennan they are optimistic the White House will sign off on dropping Iraq from the list. The White House said there is no statement at this time.
Iraqi diplomats told CBS News that “including Iraq on the seven-country travel ban list was perceived as shocking and insulting to Iraqis who are fighting alongside Americans.”
Sources told The Associated Press the decision followed pressure from the Pentagon and State Department, which urged the White House to reconsider Iraq’s inclusion on the list, given Iraq’s key role in fighting ISIS.
The government initially blocked even U.S. green card holders before offering those legal permanent residents special permission to come into the country. It finally decided the order didn’t apply to them. The State Department provisionally revoked roughly 60,000 valid visas in all.
Mr. Trump is expected to unveil a revised travel ban this week. The first one, signed on Jan. 27, suspended travel by individuals from seven majority-Muslim countries. In the chaotic week after the order was signed, there were protests nationwide at airports and a New York judge issued an emergency stay against the order the following day. On Feb. 3, a federal judge in Seattle issued a temporary restraining order blocking the travel ban’s implementation “on a nationwide basis.” A federal appeals court upheld the stay while the courts settle the legality of the ban.
But the list of countries whose citizens would be subject to “extreme vetting” could expand, based on a Department of Homeland Security assessment of where the threats are the most pronounced, sources tell CBS News’ Major Garrett.
The revised executive order would put in place a stronger policy justification for restricting travel from certain countries. Those who have reviewed the language tell CBS News they fear it may simply open up new legal challenges because it will be noticeably different from the first one.