A new version of a Trump administration travel ban will not stop green card residency holders or travelers already on planes from entering the United States, U.S. Secretary for Homeland Security John Kelly said on Saturday.
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U.S. President Donald Trump's initial attempt to clamp down for security reasons on immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries and on refugees snarled to a halt amid a judicial backlash and chaos at airports.
"The president is contemplating releasing a tighter, more streamlined version of the first (order). And I will have opportunity to work (on) a rollout plan, in particular to make sure that there's no one in a sense caught in the system of moving from overseas to our airports," Kelly said at the Munich Security Conference.
Asked whether green card residency permit holders would be allowed in, Kelly said: "It's a good assumption and, as far as the visas go, ... if they're in motion from some distant land to the United States, when they arrive they will be allowed in."
He promised "a short phase-in period to make sure that people on the other end don't get on airplanes. But if they're on an airplane and inbound, they'll be allowed to enter the country."
A draft of the replacement executive order shows that the administration aims to put restrictions on citizens of the same seven Muslim-majority countries covered by the initial order, according to the Wall Street Journal, which cites an internal State Department memo.
The replacement order could be issued as early as Tuesday, the Journal reported, citing a U.S. government official.
The administration would seek to implement the new order a week to two weeks after it is signed, and covers citizens from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen, the Journal said.
Trump's original order, which he said was meant to head off attacks by Islamist militants, barred people from those same countries from entering for 90 days and excluded all refugees for 120 days, except those from Syria, who were banned indefinitely.
The abrupt implementation of the order last month plunged the immigration system into chaos, sparking a wave of criticism from the countries affected, and from Western allies and some of America's leading corporations, especially technology firms.
(Reporting By Shadia Nasralla and Diane Bartz in Washington; Editing by Kevin Liffey and David Gregorio)