Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has declared that the executive order issued by President Donald Trump March 6 restricting travel into the U.S. was necessary.
The measure's official title is the "Executive Order Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States," according to The New Yorker.
Tillerson described the order as "a vital measure for strengthening our national security," Newsmax reported.
"With this order, President Trump is exercising his rightful authority to keep our people safe," he added.
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Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina agreed.
"I believe the new order will withstand legal challenges as it's drafted in a fashion as to not be a religious ban, but a ban on individuals coming from compromised governments and failed states," Graham said, according to the Associated Press. "This executive order will help achieve President Trump's goal of making us safe."
Trump signed the order behind closed doors. It was unveiled by Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, Tillerson and Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
In the order, Trump rejected allegations that the measure discriminates against Muslims. He noted that the latest order, and the previous one struck down in the courts, did not provide "a basis for discriminating for or against members of any particular religion," according to The New Yorker.
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The order bans the issuing of visas to citizens of six Muslim-majority countries beginning March 16. This was required to "temporarily reduce investigative burdens" for U.S. officials, the order noted.
The countries affected by the ban include Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. Iraq was included in the first order, but was removed from the second. This was due in part to diplomatic pressure from Baghdad, and also because the Trump administration did not want Iraqi translators who work with U.S. troops to be caught up in the ban.
Syrian refugees also no longer face the indefinite ban imposed on them in Trump's first order.
The order calls on the Department of Homeland Security, in conjunction with other agencies, to initiate "a worldwide review to identify whether, and if so what, additional information will be needed from each foreign country" to ensure that any individual seeking a visa in the future "is not a security or public-safety threat."
The order halts the U.S. refugee program for 120 days. After this expires, the Trump administration will allow a maximum of 50,000 refugees to enter the U.S. in fiscal year 2017.
David Miliband, president of the International Rescue Committee, did not agree that Trump's order is required.
"[The order is a] historic assault on refugee resettlement to the United States and a really catastrophic cut at a time there are more refugees around the world than ever before," he told the AP.