WASHINGTON -  More than 130 US foreign policy experts have denounced President Donald Trump's revised immigration order which halts travel from six predominantly Muslim countries.

In a letter on Saturday, 134 experts said the revised order would "jeopardise our relationships with allies and partners on whom we rely for vital counter-terrorism cooperation and information-sharing.

The letter was directed to President Trump and several high-ranking officials including Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Secretary of State Rex W Tillerson, Secretary of Defence James Mattis, Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly and Michael Dempsey, the acting director of national intelligence. The signatories, comprising former officials, including former Secretaries of State Madeleine Albright and John Kerry, argued that welcoming Muslim refugees and travellers could help expose lies from terrorists who claim the US is at war with Islam.

Trump signed the revised order last week after his January’s directive faced multiple challenges in courts across many states. People from Iran, Somalia, Sudan, Yemen, Syria and Libya will face a 90-day entry ban. However, Iraq was taken off the list because of its cooperation with the US on the fight against Daesh, officials said.

The letter argues that the revised ban "suffers from the same core substantive defects as the previous version."The revised executive order will jeopardise our relationship with allies and partners on whom we rely for vital counterterrorism cooperation and information-sharing. To Muslims – including those victimised by or fighting against ISIS – it will send a message that reinforces the propaganda of ISIS and other extremist groups, that falsely claim the United States is at war with Islam," it states.

"Welcoming Muslim refugees and travellers, by contrast, exposes the lies of terrorists and counters their warped vision," it adds. The letter was signed by a slew of former Obama administration officials, including former national security adviser Susan Rice and former UN Ambassador Samantha Power. It calls the revised order "damaging to the strategic and national security interests of the United States."

Experts who served in both Republican and Democratic administrations signed the letter, including R Nicholas Burns, former National Security Council member under Clinton and counterterrorism coordinator under Bush, and John E McLaughlin, the deputy CIA director for Clinton and acting CIA director for Bush.

The first order, which temporarily halted the entry of refugees and travellers from seven Muslim-majority countries, was hit by more than two-dozen lawsuits. The administration issued a new order aimed at surviving legal challenges.

Among the changes, the new order drops Iraq from the list of seven countries affected by the travel ban, and it exempts those from the travel ban who hold valid visas. The order continues to halt all refugee admissions for four months, while the previous order went further in suspending Syrian refugees indefinitely and allowed preference for some religious minorities. The experts further said that many Iraqis who helped the US military during the war would find trouble resettling into the US because of the new changes in the refugee policy."These individuals were given priority access to US resettlement under the Refugee Crisis in Iraq Act, but their resettlement, like that of many other vetted refugees, will now likely be delayed as security clearance and other approvals expire, adding many more months onto their processing," the letter said.

The letter also noted that following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, the US has created a rigorous vetting system for travellers and revised it continuously."Our government applies this process to travellers not once, but multiple times," the experts said.

The 9th Circuit court of Appeals in the state of Washington succeeded in halting the first immigration order, arguing it violated constitutional protections against religious discrimination.


New York-based US Attorney Preet Bharara said the Trump administration fired him after he refused to comply with its order to resign along with 45 other US attorneys across the nation.

“Today, I was fired from my position as US Attorney for the Southern District of New York," he said in a statement.

On Twitter earlier Saturday afternoon, Bharara, who was born in India to a Sikh father and Hindu mother, said: "I did not resign. Moments ago I was fired. Being the US Attorney in SDNY (Southern District of New York) will forever be the greatest honour of my professional life."

According to media reports, Bharara's dismissal said acting Deputy Attorney General Dana Boente initially called Bharara on Friday afternoon to inform the Manhattan federal prosecutor of the directive issued by Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

When Bharara, 48, had not submitted a resignation letter, Boente called Bharara about 2:30 pm Saturday and informed the prosecutor that he served at the pleasure of the president and that the president was asking him to step down.

The surprising decision by the Trump administration late Friday to dismiss 46 federal prosecutors held over from the Obama administration, including Bharara, sent shockwaves through New York.

Bharara's departure was seen a major blow to the crusading prosecutor's quest to root out corruption in state and local governments.

Since taking office in 2009, he led the successful conviction of the state's two former legislative leaders, Dean Skelos and Sheldon Silver, and is in the middle of prosecuting New York Governor Andrew Cuomo's former top aides for alleged bid rigging and kickbacks.

The cases could go to trial as early as this spring.

"It's shocking because he's done a great job," said Blair Horner, the legislative director for the New York Public Interest Research Group.

The dismissals of Bharara and other U.S attorneys, while described by the Justice Department as a perfunctory part of the ongoing transition to the Trump administration, nevertheless come at a delicate time. Last week, Trump claimed in a series of tweets that former President Barack Obama had ordered the electronic surveillance of Trump's New York offices in advance of the November election.