According to a person familiar with the matter, late Tuesday, the White House changed plans for President Trump to sign a revised travel ban Wednesday afternoon. This is the third time the administration has put off the matter since the president said that dangerous people might enter the country without a prohibition in place.
Although the courts have disagreed, President Trump has insisted the ban’s necessity for national security reasons. Trump blasted the judicial system on Twitter, writing that because a federal judge in Washington state had ordered it frozen, “many very bad and dangerous people may be pouring into our country.” He also suggested that if something were to happen, the court system would be to blame.
Although it was not immediately clear why the White House canceled plans to get Trump’s signature on the new executive order, CNN reported that a White House official did not deny that optics were part of the calculus. “We want the [executive order] to have its own ‘moment,’” an official told the network. Trump’s original executive order, now frozen by the courts, had barred citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries and all refugees from entering the US. When it was implemented, tens of thousands of visas were provisionally revoked by the State Department, and some people who were in transit when it took effect were detained or deported once they reached US airports.
Since then, the Justice Department has asked courts to delay litigation while a new order is drafted, and the White House has repeatedly put it off. On Friday February 10, Trump said that he was considering writing a new order and that he probably would take some action the following Monday or Tuesday. He did not write a new order by then, and again, it was put off for another week. The president was slated to sign the order on Wednesday, but now, it seems, it will have to wait again. People familiar with the matter said that the new order will exempt current visa holders and legal permanent residents, and its implementation will be delayed. The new order also will remove an exception to the ban for those who are members of religious minorities. That was seen as a way to allow Christians to travel to the United States, and critics pointed to it as evidence that the ban discriminated against Muslims intentionally.