The U.S. Supreme Court on September 25 signaled that it may dismiss a constitutional challenge to President Donald Trump's travel ban after he expanded it to cover two countries without Muslim majorities.
The high court cancelled oral arguments that had been scheduled for October 10 on whether the original travel order covering only six predominantly Muslim countries was discriminatory. That order expired on September 24.
The court asked the parties to file opinions on whether the case against the original order has been overtaken by events and should be dismissed.
The new order covers North Korea and Venezuela as well as most of the countries originally targeted: Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen.
Limitations on citizens of Sudan were lifted while Iraqi citizens face enhanced scrutiny, or vetting, but will not be subject to travel prohibitions. Chad was also added to the list.
The new restrictions will go into effect on October 18.
"Making America Safe is my number one priority. We will not admit those into our country we cannot safely vet," Trump said a tweet.
Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif criticized Trump's new order, writing on Twitter: "Trump's fake empathy for Iranians rings ever more hollow, with his new and even more offensive travel ban against such outstanding citizens."
The measures restricting travel to the United States include an indefinite ban on visas for citizens of countries like Syria.
Critics said the inclusion of some new countries in the new travel order appeared to be largely symbolic and intended to combat perceptions that the ban is targeting Muslims.
A suspension of non-immigrant visas for citizens of Venezuela, for example, will apply only to certain government officials and their immediate families.
"President Trump's original sin of targeting Muslims cannot be cured by throwing other countries onto his enemies list," the American Civil Liberties Union said in the statement.
With reporting by Reuters, AP, and AFP