Washington: Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said on Monday that the new executive order on immigration signed earlier in the day by President Donald Trump is "vital" for the country's security and asked Washington's allies around the world to "understand" that it is a "temporary" effort to strengthen immigration control.
The executive order Trump signed on Monday morning is "a vital measure for strengthening our national security" whereby the President is "exercising his rightful authority to keep our people safe," EFE news quoted Tillerson as saying in an appearance before reporters along with Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly.
"While no system can be completely infallible, the American people can have high confidence we are investigating ways to improve the vetting process and thus keep terrorists from entering our country," said Tillerson, adding that the order will strengthen security for the US and its allies.
Trump signed a new version of his earlier controversial order, and the new directive will enter into force on March 16 and prohibit US entry to refugees for 120 days, along with halting the issuing of visas to citizens of Iran, Somalia, Yemen, Libya, Syria and Sudan.
Tillerson urged US allies and partners around the world to understand that the newly crafted order is part of the administration's attempt to eliminate security vulnerabilities "that radical Islamist terrorists can and will exploit for destructive ends".
The top US diplomat said that Iraq was not included in the new order -- although it had been included in the first one -- because it "is an important ally in the fight to defeat ISIS," adding that Baghdad "will be implementing (multiple security measures) to achieve our shared objective of preventing those with criminal or terroristic intent from reaching the United States."
Sessions, upon addressing reporters, emphasised that "(M)ore than 300 people who came here as refugees (since the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks) are under FBI investigation for potential terrorism-related activities."
He said that three of the nations on the list are state sponsors of terrorism and the other three have provided refuge to terrorists and have governments that have lost control of their territories due to groups like the Islamic State, Al Qaeda and their affiliates.
Sessions also said that the Justice Department believes this order, like the first one that was blocked by the courts, is "a lawful and proper exercise of presidential authority", as per the constitutional powers accorded to the President to make national security judgments.
Kelly, meanwhile, said that the Department of Homeland Security will enforce the measures "humanely, respectfully and with professionalism", albeit it forcefully.
Trump earlier on Monday signed a revised version of his controversial January 27 executive order that had suspended US entry for all refugees as well as travellers from a group of seven Muslim-majority countries, EFE news added.
In contrast to the earlier order, this one specifies that citizens of the six nations in question may enter the US if they had a valid visa before 5 p.m. on January 27, a matter that had not been clarified in the earlier order, thereby causing chaos in airports around the world when holders of valid visas were denied entry.
The President also eliminated any reference to Christians in the new executive order, that group being one that he had tried to protect in his first order.
In the earlier executive order, Trump established that Syrian Christians could enter the United States but entry for other refugees from Syria along with the faithful of other religions was indefinitely halted.