Cabinet heads urged that Iraq be removed from new travel ban

Posted at 6:50 PM, Mar 01, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-01 18:50:05-05

WASHINGTON — Three of President Donald Trump’s top foreign policy advisers have advocated for Iraq to be removed from the Trump administration’s list of banned countries in his new executive order, citing diplomatic reasons, sources told CNN.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Secretary of Defense James Mattis and national security adviser H.R. McMaster made the request, the sources said. One of the main reasons is Iraq’s role in fighting ISIS.

Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly also supported the move, but it remains unclear whether the White House has made a final decision.

The executive order is expected to be released later this week. Trump delayed plans to sign a reworked travel ban in the wake of positive reaction to his first address to Congress, a senior administration official told CNN.

Trump’s original executive order, signed a week after he entered the White House, banned citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries — Iraq, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen — from entering the US for 90 days, and temporarily suspended the entry of all refugees.

A federal court issued a temporary injunction last month that halted implementation of the travel ban nationwide, and an appeals court declined to reinstate the ban.

The new executive order will make clear that legal permanent residents (otherwise known as green card holders) are excluded from any travel ban, and those with validly issued visas will also be exempt from the ban.

The new order also is expected to revise or exclude language prioritizing the refugee claims of certain religious minorities.

Two sources told CNN they expect Trump will formally revoke the earlier executive order.