By Michael Hernandez
A White House official on Friday declined to address reports that indicate the U.S. is readying a series of new measures to replace President Donald Trump's controversial travel ban on six Muslim-majority countries.
"[T]he Trump Administration will ensure we only admit those who can be properly vetted and will not pose a threat to national security or public safety,” the official told Anadolu Agency in an emailed statement.
The comment follows multiple reports that suggest new targeted restrictions could be announced as early as Sunday when the travel ban is slated to expire.
Trump’s executive order had been rewritten to bar residents of six Muslim-majority countries from receiving new visas after the policy had faced successive legal challenges.
In June, the Supreme Court allowed parts of the ban on new visas for travelers coming from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen to go into effect ahead of oral arguments scheduled for Oct. 10.
But what the case will address, if it goes ahead, is unclear. The 90-day visa ban expires at the end of September, and a prohibition on refugee entry expires at the end of October.
Instead, it appears Trump's executive order will be abandoned in favor of new targeted restrictions that are slated to affect more countries.
The severity of the new restrictions will vary depending on how individual countries cooperate with U.S. government mandates, as well as specific threat assessments of each country and additional factors, the Wall Street Journal originally reported.
The number of targeted countries would likely rise from six to eight, or nine, according to the newspaper.
Originally, 17 nations were slated to be affected, but roughly half came into compliance with U.S. regulations when presented with the new prohibitions.
Rather than have an end-date as was the case in the original executive order, the new measures would be calibrated to change with various factors, according to the newspaper.
The original travel ban had been hit with a series of legal defeats, with a series of federal judges ruling it was an unconstitutional attempt to ban Muslims from coming to the U.S.
Trump suggested the ban be expanded following a deadly attack in London earlier this month. "The travel ban into the United States should be far larger, tougher and more specific,” he said.