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Trump expected to sign new executive order on immigration ban

U.S. President Donald Trump arrives aboard Air Force One in Joint Base Andrews, Md. on March 5, 2017.

Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

President Donald Trump is preparing to sign a revised executive order temporarily barring the entry of people from certain Muslim-majority countries and halting the nation's refugee program.

A White House official says plans to roll out the order are on track for Monday. The official insisted on anonymity in order to discuss the order ahead of the official announcement.

The new order has been in the works since shortly after a federal court blocked Trump's initial effort, but the administration has repeatedly pushed back the signing as it has worked to better co-ordinate with the agencies that it will need to implement the ban.

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Read more: Issues to watch in Washington during a high-stakes week for Trump

Related: Trump's original immigration ban: How it was introduced, and how the courts shut it down

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Trump administration officials have said the new order aims to overcome the legal challenges to the first. Its goal will be the same: keep would-be terrorists out of the United States while the government reviews the vetting system for refugees and visa applicants from certain parts of the world.

Trump's original orders temporarily blocked citizens of Iran, Iraq, Somalia, Sudan, Yemen, Syria and Libya from coming to the United States and put on hold the U.S. refugee program.

The revised order is expected to remove Iraq from the list of countries whose citizens face a temporary U.S. travel ban for 90 days. That follows pressure from the Pentagon and State Department, which had urged the White House to reconsider, given Iraq's key role in fighting the Islamic State group.

According to a draft version of the new order outlined to lawmakers late last week, citizens of the other six countries will face the 90-day suspension of visa processing as the administration continues to analyze how to enhance vetting procedures.

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Other changes are also expected, including making clear that all existing visas will be honoured and no longer singling out Syrian refugees for an indefinite ban. Syrian refugees will now be treated like other refugees and be subjected to a 120-day suspension of the refugee program.

The new version is also expected to remove language that would give priority for religious minorities. Critics had accused the administration of adding such language to help Christians get into the United States while excluding Muslims.

Trump signed his original executive order in late January, sparking confusion and anger as travellers were detained at U.S. airports and barred from boarding flights at foreign airports.

The signing is expected to spark a new round of lawsuits and controversy.

Video: Trump cites Canada's 'merit-based' immigration system amidst tough talk on border security
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