US President Donald Trump on Monday signed a new executive order renewing a ban on travel to the United States by citizens of six Muslim-majority countries, a statement from the White House said.
The new order is a revised version of an entry ban that President Trump signed in January, which was blocked by a federal court after it triggered protests and interrupted immigration and travel worldwide.
The White House said Trump signed the order, which temporarily freezes new visas for Syrians, Iranians, Libyans, Somalis, Yemenis and Sudanese citizens, behind closed doors this morning.
Iraq was removed from the list of countries targeted in the new order.
Iraq was taken off the list of targeted countries because the Iraqi government had imposed new vetting procedures, a White House official said earlier.
TRT World's Jennifer Glasse reports from Washington.
White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the new order would take effect on March 16. The delay aims to limit the disruption created by the original Jan. 27 order before a US judge suspended it on Feb. 3.
"It is the president's solemn duty to protect the American people," Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told reporters after Trump signed the new order.
"As threats to our security continue to evolve and change, common sense dictates that we continually re-evaluate and reassess the systems we rely upon to protect our country."
Iraq on Monday expressed "deep relief" over the Trump administration's decision to remove Baghdad from the list of countries targeted in Trump Travel Ban 2.0.
"The decision is an important step in the right direction, it consolidates the strategic alliance between Baghdad and Washington in many fields, and at their forefront war on terrorism," the Iraqi foreign ministry said.
Thousands of Iraqis have fought alongside US troops for years or worked as translators after the US-led invasion in 2003, which toppled Saddam Hussein from power.
Many of them have since resettled in the United States following threats for working with US troops.
Green card holders
A White House official said the new executive order also ensures that tens of thousands of legal permanent residents in the United States –or green card holders – from the listed countries would not now be affected by the travel ban.
More than two dozen lawsuits were filed in US courts against the original travel ban.
The state of Washington had succeeded in having it suspended by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals by arguing that it violated constitutional protections against religious discrimination.
Trump had publicly criticised judges who ruled against him and vowed to fight the case in the Supreme Court, but later decided to draw up a new order with changes aimed at making it easier to defend in the courts.