The Donald Trump administration pushed back this weekend against the media-fueled uproar against the executive order implemented on Friday restricting immigration and travel from seven high-risk countries in the Middle East.
“The United States admits, from the Muslim majority countries of the world, more people every year than any other country on earth that is not itself a member of that region,” a senior official explained to reporters at the White House on Saturday, adding that “the notion that this is a Muslim ban is ludicrous.”
Protests against Trump’s action are growing in activist hotbeds of the country, particularly in New York City, Washington D.C., and California, accusing the president of banning Muslims from the United States.
Trump’s executive order blocked visa entries from Iraq, Iran, Syria, Somalia, Sudan, Libya, and Yemen for 90 days — countries that Congress had identified as “high risk” areas of the country. Muslims from other countries such as Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Turkey were not blocked.
Exceptions to the rule would be handled on a case-by-case basis, the official confirmed, not en masse, citing two Iraqi men released from JFK airport in New York City as an example of a successful vetting process. The official praised security officials for handling the situation professionally.
“To be able to identify passengers who need to go through a waiver process and to do so quickly is a demonstration of the skill and professionalism of those at CBP and those at the State Department,” he said.
The official noted that the purpose of the order was to block the “ever present threat of domestic terrorism,” by building a vetting and screening process for immigrants and travelers from dangerous countries.
“No person living or residing overseas has a right to entry into the United States … this is not travel ban, it’s the cessation of most travel with case by case exemptions,” the official added.
Trump also spoke briefly about the executive order to reporters at the White House during a signing ceremony.
“It’s not a Muslim ban but we are prepared to work it out nicely. You see it at the airport for its working out nicely,” he said. “We will have a strict ban and we will have extreme vetting which we should have had for many years.”
The Department of Homeland Security also released a statement in response to the lawsuits filed by CAIR and other lawyers in reaction to the travel restrictions.
“The Department of Homeland Security will faithfully execute the immigration laws, and we will treat all of those we encounter humanely and with professionalism,” read a statement from the agency. “No foreign national in a foreign land, without ties to the United States, has any unfettered right to demand entry into the United States or to demand immigration benefits in the United States.”
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DHS statement in reaction to lawsuits: pic.twitter.com/9tJZdo94tn
— Charlie Spiering (@charliespiering) January 29, 2017