The head of the Department of Homeland Security in the United States has issued a statement aimed at clarifying the new executive order relating to visas.
The new order applies to foreign citizens outside of the US who do not have a current valid visa to enter the country and will take effect from 16 March 2017.
But President Donald Trump is also leaving open the possibility of expanding the ban to other countries, or even putting Iraq back on the banned list if the country’s leaders fail to comply with a requirement that they increase intelligence sharing, officials said.
‘It is important to note that nothing in this executive order affects current lawful permanent residents or persons with current authorization to enter our country,’ said Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly.
‘If you have a current valid visa to travel, we welcome you. But unregulated, unvetted travel is not a universal privilege, especially when national security is at stake,’ he explained.
He pointed out that the Department of Homeland Security has worked closely with the Department of Justice, the Department of State, and the White House to create an executive order that addresses information concerns while protecting the nation.
‘The men and women of the Department of Homeland Security, like their brothers and sisters throughout law enforcement, are decent Americans of character and conscience. They are no less so than the governors of our states and territories, of our senators and members of the congress, of our city mayors and advocacy groups,’ he added.
‘They are sworn to enforce the laws as passed by the US Congress and would be in violation of the law and their sworn oaths if they did not do so. We will continue to work closely with our operating components and across government to implement and enforce it humanely, respectfully, and with professionalism,’ he concluded.
The new executive order refers to citizens of six mainly Muslim countries with Iraq being dropped from the previous order which was blocked by legal action. It also exempts permanent residents and current visa holders, and drops language offering preferential status to persecuted religious minorities, a provision widely interpreted as favouring other religious groups over Muslims.