President Trump’s temporary executive order barred immigration for 90 days from seven predominantly Muslim countries, including Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. This immigration ban also suspended the admission of Syrian refugees indefinitely and all other refugees for 120 days. President Trump said that ‘the pause was needed so the government could evaluate its vetting procedures to protect against terrorism.’
Everybody is arguing whether or not it is a BAN. Call it what you want, it is about keeping bad people (with bad intentions) out of country!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 1, 2017
In response to President Trump’s executive order for temporary immigration ban on travelers from seven Muslim-majority countries, “‘at least 100,000 visas have been revoked” according to a Justice Department’s lawyer in a federal court in Virginia. These figures came out during a hearing in a lawsuit that was filed by attorneys for two Yemeni brothers, Tareq and Ammar Aqel Mohammed Aziz, who were forced to give up their immigration visas at Dulles International Airport and were put on a return flight to Ethiopia.
“I think you could almost hear the collective gasp in the courtroom when the government attorney stated that number. For every person not being allowed into the United States right now, there are family members and other people affected by that,’ said Simon Sandoval-Moshenberg, legal director of the Immigrant Advocacy Program of the Legal Aid Justice Center. He is also the lawyer for the two Yemeni brothers’ case.”
Leonie M. Brinkema of Federal District Court in Alexandria, also the judge in the case, described the Trump administration’s handling of the executive order as causing chaos, according to The Associated Press. As the Immigration ban was announced without any prior notice to the visa holders or the refugees and the number is higher than anyone imagined, it has caused a great uproar throughout the nation.
The figure cited in the court was immediately disputed by the State Department which said fewer than 60,000 visas were revoked.
:Fewer than 60,000 individuals’ visas were provisionally revoked to comply with the Executive Order,” William Cocks of the State Department Bureau of Consular Affairs said in an email to NBC News. “We recognize that those individuals are temporarily inconvenienced while we conduct our review under the Executive Order. To put that number in context, we issued over 11 million immigrant and non-immigrant visas in fiscal year 2015. As always, national security is our top priority when issuing visas.”
What was more troubling for critics of the freeze was the statement from Virginia Elliott, spokeswoman for the Bureau of Consular Affairs at the State Department, who said, “The revocation has no impact on the legal status of people already in the United States. If those people were to leave U.S. soil and try to return, the visas would no longer be valid.” Visa holders have not received any notice regarding this.
These figures are way more than the number of people detained or deported at the airport since Trump’s immigration ban was announced.
President Trump has been named in at least 50 lawsuits since taking office on January 21. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), in a separate legal action, filed a coordinated Freedom of Information Act request in all 50 states demanding to know how U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) offices are implementing President Trump’s immigration ban affecting seven countries and the court orders that struck it down. The detailed request demands to see all agency communications regarding Trump’s immigration ban and following court orders.
We just demanded documents to know how government officials are interpreting and executing Trump's immigration ban pic.twitter.com/5CN0Rd0mzs
— ACLU National (@ACLU) February 2, 2017
Mitra Ebadolahi, Border Litigation Project Staff Attorney, at the ACLU told NBC news, “It is clear that CBP believes it can operate with impunity and continue treating innocent travelers with callous and inhumane disregard for their basic rights. This agency must be held publicly accountable for its unlawful conduct.”
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