US officials: Iraq to be lifted off US travel ban

Donald Trump addressing US congress. (AFP)

US officials say President Donald Trump's new immigration order will remove Iraq from the list of countries whose citizens face a temporary US travel ban.

Four officials say the administration's decision follows pressure from the Pentagon and State Department. They had urged the White House to reconsider Iraq's inclusion given its key role in fighting the Islamic State group.

Trump is expected to sign the new order Wednesday. It is designed to replace an earlier Trump order that was blocked by federal courts.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to discuss the order before it is signed.

They said six countries - Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen - will remain on the travel ban list.

US President Donald Trump vowed Tuesday to introduce a new merit-based system to regulate new arrivals in the United States and reduce the flow of unskilled workers, as he held out the prospect of a sweeping immigration reform.

While pushing for tougher law enforcement in his maiden speech to Congress, Trump also said an Australian-style immigration system would “save countless dollars, raise workers' wages, and help struggling families - including immigrant families - enter the middle class.”

“It is a basic principle that those seeking to enter a country ought to be able to support themselves financially,” Trump told lawmakers.

“Yet, in America, we do not enforce this rule, straining the very public resources that our poorest citizens rely upon,” he added.

Trump held out the prospect of achieving a bipartisan compromise on immigration reform, something that has eluded previous US administrations.

“I believe that real and positive immigration reform is possible, as long as we focus on the following goals: to improve jobs and wages for Americans, to strengthen our nation's security, and to restore respect for our laws,” he said.

Trump tied his pledge to fight illegal immigration to the prospect of jobs and security at home.
“By finally enforcing our immigration laws, we will raise wages, help the unemployed, save billions and billions of dollars and make our communities safer for everyone,” he said.

He said he had given orders to create a special office to assist victims of crime by immigrants. It will be called VOICE - Victims of Immigration Crime Engagement.

“We are providing a voice to those who have been ignored by our media, and silenced by special interests,” Trump said.

He then paid tribute to four guests in the audience, who, he said, had lost loved ones in violent crimes committed by immigrants living in the country illegally.

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Last Update: Wednesday, 01 March 2017 KSA 07:27 - GMT 04:27
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