Less than 48 hours after issuing an executive order pausing the U.S. refugee resettlement program, both Pres. Trump and the Department of Homeland Security issued statements indicating no openness to backing down in the face of intense news media criticism.
At 4:30 Sunday afternoon, Pres. Trump provided this statement:
America is a proud nation of immigrants and we will continue to show compassion to those fleeing oppression, but we will do so while protecting our own citizens and border. America has always been the land of the free and home of the brave. We will keep it free and keep it safe, as the media knows, but refuses to say. My policy is similar to what President Obama did in 2011 when he banned visas for refugees from Iraq for six months. The seven countries named in the Executive Order are the same countries previously identified by the Obama administration as sources of terror. To be clear, this is not a Muslim ban, as the media is falsely reporting. This is not about religion - this is about terror and keeping our country safe. There are over 40 different countries worldwide that are majority Muslim that are not affected by this order. We will again be issuing visas to all countries once we are sure we have reviewed and implemented the most secure policies over the next 90 days. I have tremendous feeling for the people involved in this horrific humanitarian crisis in Syria. My first priority will always be to protect and serve our country, but as President I will find ways to help all those who are suffering.
Earlier on Sunday, the Department of Homeland Security issued a longer statement that made something clear that perhaps shouldn't be so surprising -- that the department considers the security of the homeland to be its top priority.
The Department of Homeland Security will continue to enforce all of President Trump's Executive Orders in a manner that ensures the safety and security of the American people. President Trump's Executive Orders remain in place--prohibited travel will remain prohibited, and the U.S. government retains its right to revoke visas at any time if required for national security or public safety. President Trump's Executive Order affects a minor portion of international travelers, and is a first step towards reestablishing control over America's borders and national security.
Approximately 80 million international travelers enter the United States every year. Yesterday, less than one percent of the more than 325,000 international air travelers who arrive every day were inconvenienced while enhanced security measures were implemented. These individuals went through enhanced security screenings and are being processed for entry to the United States, consistent with our immigration laws and judicial orders.
The Department of Homeland Security will faithfully execute the immigration laws, and we will treat all of those we encounter humanely and with professionalism. 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.
The Department of Homeland Security will comply with judicial orders; faithfully enforce our immigration laws, and implement President Trump's Executive Orders to ensure that those entering the United States do not pose a threat to our country or the American people.
On Sunday evening, DHS Secretary John Kelly made it clear that existing green card holders from the seven designated countries would be allowed entry into the Unites States unless they posed a serious threat.
In applying the provisions of the president's executive order, I hereby deem the entry of lawful permanent residents to be in the national interest.
Accordingly, absent the receipt of significant derogatory information indicating a serious threat to public safety and welfare, lawful permanent resident status will be a dispositive factor in our case-by-case determinations.
Updated: Sun, Feb 12th 2017 @ 6:20pm EST