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SEATTLE -- Washington state attorney general Bob Ferguson declared a "significant victory" Monday after President Donald Trump signed a new executive order on travel from six Muslim-majority countries. But Ferguson says his team will be taking a close look at the revised order to see if it passes legal muster.
The new order comes weeks after Ferguson sued Trump over his original order which has been dubbed a 'ban on Muslims' entering the country.
"The President has capitulated on numerous key provisions that we contested in court about a month ago. So, on those key provisions, this is a very significant victory for the people of the State of Washington," said Ferguson in a Monday press conference.
A federal judge in Seattle issued a nationwide hold on the order. His ruling was upheld by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
Ferguson pointed out that after the 9th Circuit's ruling, the President vowed on Twitter to fight the decision in court.
SEE YOU IN COURT, THE SECURITY OF OUR NATION IS AT STAKE!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 9, 2017
"It bears pointing out that the administration, since that tweet, has done everything in its power to avoid seeing anyone in court when it comes to the original executive order," said Ferguson, saying the order was illegal and unconstitutional. "The President was essentially afraid to see us in court because he knew he would lose again."
As before, the order shuts down the U.S. refugee program for 120 days to give the federal government time to assess vetting procedures to prevent terrorists from entering the country. However, Syrians are no longer subject to an indefinite ban, as they were under the first order.
Ferguson outlined the changes between the original order and the new one.
• The original order went into effect immediately, which led to chaos at airports across the country. The Trump administration said that was to prevent potential terrorists from getting in before the rules took effect. The new order takes effect March 16, giving officials ten days to prepare.
• The new ban no longer restricts travel from Iraq, one of seven listed in the original order. The 90-day ban now is limited to Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Sudan and Yemen. USA TODAY reports the Iraqi government vowed to improve the security of its travel documents, share more information on its citizens with the U.S. government and agreed to accept Iraqi nationals who have been ordered deported from the U.S., according to a senior Homeland Security official.
• The original order restricted international travel of about 500,000 green card holders who are citizens of the seven originally targeted countries. Green card holders are now exempt.
• Dual citizens: People who have a passport from one of the original seven countries and a passport from the U.S. or another non-banned country were not admitted to enter the U.S. for 90 days under the original order. That is not in the new order.
• Visa holders: Vetted travelers with valid visas were blocked from entering U.S. under the original order. That is not in the new order.
• Entry by Syrian refugees was suspended indefinitely under the original order. The new order reduces that to 120 days just like all other countries under the U.S. refugee program.
• Religious minorities: An exception was made in the original order for people escaping these Muslim-majority nations due to religious persecution if they practiced a minority religion. That's why many called this a Muslim ban. The new order eliminates that.
Ferguson said the next step is to carefully review the new order just like his staff did the first one. The AG's office will talk to anyone who may be affected including individuals and businesses who might be harmed by the order. A determination about further legal steps could come this week.
Ferguson also says he will still look closely at the motivation behind the order.
"The intent behind the original order is of deep concern to us. This was motivated, in part, by the administration to target predominantly Muslim countries. So, we still have concerns about that intent. Yes, this is a new order, but there is a continuation here," said Ferguson.
During the presidential campaign, Trump called for a total shutdown of Muslims entering the U.S.
Governor Jay Inslee echoed Ferguson's concerns about Trump's intent behind the new order, saying it "maintains the president’s mean-spirited approach" and doesn't adhere to the United States' core values.
"Our nation is one based on compassion and empathy for refugees from war-torn areas, and our nation’s compassion and empathy was not torn in half the day Donald Trump took the oath of President of the United States," Inslee said at a press conference Monday.
The Trump administration, meanwhile, defended the need for the order to bolster national security.
"Today's executive order that President Trump signed this morning will make America more secure and address long overdue concerns about the security of our immigration system," said DHS Secretary John Kelly, appearing at a news conference along with Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.
"Unregulated, unvetted travel is not a universal privilege, especially when national security is at stake," Secretary Kelly continued.
"The Department of Justice believes that this executive order, just as the first executive order, is a lawful and proper exercise of presidential authority," said AG Sessions.
It's unknown what will happen to Washington State's initial suit, before Judge Robart.
The Attorney General's Office says it will begin to assess the potential impact of the new order on the state of Washington, to determine whether their claims of damages or economic harm still stand.
"I want to be very, very clear. I have made absolutely no decisions about our next steps, not even close. We’re just not at that stage. We are going to be very careful about going forward and getting facts," said Ferguson.
Washington lawmakers react to new order
Here's how lawmakers from Washington state reacted to the revised travel order
Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash.
“No matter how many games President Trump plays with the language of this executive order, it is clear that these attempts to slam the door on Muslim immigrants and refugees are un-American, they won’t make us any safer, and they are flat-out wrong. Millions of people across the country have stood up and made their voices heard to oppose this hateful and divisive ban in the weeks since President Trump first announced it—and we’re not going to give up now. President Trump should work with us to focus on actually keeping our families safe, not on dangerous, divisive, and hateful actions that betray our American values and would hurt women and children fleeing horrific violence across the world.”
Lt. Governor Cyrus Habib
“President Trump’s revised travel ban not only remains discriminatory but is also harmful to our national security. Our country has always welcomed the best and brightest from around the world, and arbitrarily blocking students, researchers, and artists from visiting the U.S. runs counter to our country’s proud traditions. My own parents would never have been able to come to this country from Iran had this order been in place.
We will continue operating a resource portal for those affected by this policy, and will remain available to help any Washingtonian who is adversely affected by this executive order to the best of our ability.”
King County Executive Dow Constantine
"The new Executive Order on immigration announced today may have different words, but the spirit is the same: to exclude people based on their religion and country of origin. Such a policy betrays the fundamental principle that has guided our nation since its inception and been central to our success: that we welcome people who come here fleeing tyranny, fleeing oppression, seeking a better life.
"At King County, we are taking a much different path. We are a welcoming community, and I thank Council Chair McDermott and the rest of the King County Council for their fast action on my plan to provide rapid services to help people navigate the naturalization process, as well as supporting community organizations on the frontlines of immigrant rights and education.
"In addition, more than 75 local elected officials have signed our pledge affirming King County is a welcoming community, and later this month we will convene regional leaders to coordinate local responses and provide legal analysis on federal immigration policies. With our partners around the region, we proudly uphold the promise of hope, freedom and opportunity for all."
Seattle City Councilmember Lorena Gonzalez
"No one is fooled by this Executive Order. It reiterates ill-conceived federal action based in xenophobia rather than fact. If anything, this repackaged order affirms that the Trump administration believes they can't win against Washington State in court. I support Attorney General Bob Ferguson and his office in reviewing this new order for it’s true intent."
Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash.
“The president has been forced to recognize – through the clear signal sent from several courts and in our streets – that his original travel ban was both unconstitutional and ineptly executed. The new order recognizes that we must honor the visas of those who already have been given clearance to come to the United States, as well as expressly excludes legal permanent residents and dual citizens from the ban. It also excludes Iraq from the list of countries, another clear sign that such a ban would hurt our coalition efforts for peace in the Middle East. It should not have taken the courts and nationwide protests to stop such an order from taking effect in the first place. The president was irresponsible in throwing the country into chaos and putting fear in the hearts of millions of families across our country and world.
“Unfortunately, however, the president’s Muslim Ban 2.0 is driven by the same xenophobic priorities that wreaked havoc at airports around the nation and led to the shameful detentions of innocent men, women and children. It continues to single out Muslim majority countries only, drastically limits and suspends refugee resettlement, and deeply affects our relationships with countries around the world. It continues to do nothing to make our country safer, alienates our allies and gives extremists propaganda for recruitment.
“President Trump is once again attempting to shut America’s door to immigrants and vulnerable refugees who are fleeing war-ravaged countries. This ‘do-over’ order still has consequences that stretch far and wide and hurt our national security. It is still extremely ill-conceived and paints wide swathes of people and countries with negative stereotypes that have little to do with a logical plan for peace and security in our country. We will continue to work in the courts and in the streets to stop this administration—as we have done before.”
Rep. Dave Reichert, R-Wash.
"The most important duty of the President is to protect the American people. This new executive order is a more measured approach than the previous action, but I will closely follow its implementation to ensure those who have the legal right to enter the U.S. are not impacted. Going forward, the Administration must work with Congress on solutions that strengthen our national security and the safety of our families while upholding our American values of compassion and acceptance of individuals from all backgrounds."
USA TODAY's Alan Gomez contributed to this report.
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