(AhlulBayt News Agency) - Confusion over the consequences of Donald Trump’s drastic travel ban continued to mount on Friday, as federal officials offered conflicting statistics on the number of visas that were revoked following the president’s executive order last week.
At a federal court hearing in Virigina, a Department of Justice attorney said more than 100,000 visas were revoked as a result of Trump’s broad order, which initially prevented those with valid visas from seven Muslim-majority countries, as well as refugees, from entering the US.
But shortly after that statement was made, the state department contradicted the figure, saying that fewer than 60,000 visas had in fact been cancelled. The state department said the justice department’s figure was inaccurately higher as it had included some visas, including diplomatic, which were exempted by Trump’s ban, as well as those that had simply expired.
The embarrassment was further compounded during the White House daily press briefing when the president’s press secretary, Sean Spicer, was unable to offer any clarity on the matter.
Asked about the 100,000 figure quoted by the justice department attorney, Spicer said: “I’ll have to get back to you on that. I don’t have all the details right now.”
The DoJ attorney revealed this number during a hearing in Alexandria, Virginia, for a lawsuit involving two Yemeni brothers who were sent back to Ethiopia after arriving in Washington DC on Saturday morning.
The brothers, Tareq and Ammar Aqel Mohammad, were forced to relinquish their green cards to homeland security officials upon arrival at Dulles international airport, according to the suit. Lawyers contend the government acted unlawfully by coercing the brothers into giving up their immigration status and suggest that up to 60 others may have been treated in the same manner at Dulles international airport, shortly after the ban came into place.
Attorneys for the brothers won a significant battle on Friday as US district judge Leonie Brinkema ordered the federal government to produce a list of all those with visas or residency who had been denied entry or removed at Dulles since the order. Brinkema also extended a restraining order that prevents the government from removing anyone else with valid paperwork.
Last Friday, Trump signed the executive order, which affects people holding passports from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen, and also halts temporarily the entry of refugees into the country.