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Monday, January 30, 2017, 13:57

US tempers part of Trump travel ban amid big protests, criticism

By Reuters
US tempers part of Trump travel ban amid big protests, criticism
Protesters and immigrant rights advocates gather at Castle Clinton National Monument, Jan 29, 2017, in New York's Battery Park, as President Donald Trump's immigration order sowed more chaos and outrage across the country. (Kathy Willens / AP)

WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump's administration on Sunday tempered a key element of his move to ban entry of refugees and people from seven Muslim-majority countries in the face of mounting criticism even from some prominent Republicans and protests that drew tens of thousands in major American cities.

Trump signed the directive on Friday, but the policy appeared to be evolving on the fly. Democrats and a growing number of Republicans assailed the move and foreign leaders condemned it amid court challenges and tumult at US airports.

On Friday, Donald Trump put a four-month hold on allowing refugees into the country, an indefinite ban on refugees from Syria and a three-month bar on citizens from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen

The president's critics have said his action unfairly singled out Muslims, violated US law and the Constitution and defiled America's historic reputation as hospitable to immigrants.

In a fresh defense of the action on Sunday, Trump said his directive was "not about religion" but keeping America safe. Trump has presented the policy as a way to protect the country from the threat of Islamist militants.

US Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly said in a statement that people from the seven countries who hold so-called green cards as lawful permanent US residents would not be blocked from returning to the US from overseas, as some had been after the directive.

All green card holders who were detained at US airports had been admitted into the country by late Sunday, a US official familiar with the process told Reuters. The source could not provide a figure of how many people whose re-entry had been delayed, in some cases for hours.

Outside the White House, several thousand protesters denounced Trump, carrying signs such as "Deport Trump" and "Fear is a terrible thing for a nation's soul." Protests also were staged in cities and airports in New York, Los Angeles, Boston, Houston, Dallas and elsewhere.

The Republican president on Friday put a four-month hold on allowing refugees into the country, an indefinite ban on refugees from Syria and a three-month bar on citizens from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.

US tempers part of Trump travel ban amid big protests, criticism
Protesters rally against President Trump's refugee ban at Miami International Airport on Jan 29, 2017. (C.M. Guerrero/El Nuevo Herald via AP)
Border and customs officials struggled to put Trump's directive into practice. Confusion persisted over details of implementation, in particular for the people who hold green cards.

Ultimately, we fear this executive order will become a self-inflicted wound in the US

Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham
Senator Bob Corker, the Republican chairman of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee and a Trump supporter, said the president's order had been poorly implemented, particularly for green card holders.

Trump defended his action.

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