The government revoked more than 100,000 visas in the week since President Trump suspended travel arrivals for citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries, according to news reports from CNN and The Washington Post.
The revelation came Friday in a case before the U.S. District Court in Virginia involving two Yemeni brothers denied entry when they arrived at Virginia's Dulles International Airport following Trump’s Jan. 27 order. The executive action barred travelers from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. Attorneys general from several states, including Massachusetts, Washington, New York, have challenged the order.
In court Friday, Justice Department lawyer Erez Reuveni revealed the number of visas to Judge Leonie Brinkema, CNN reported. Visa are temporary permits to enter the U.S. Reuveni said no legal permanent residents, or green-card holders, have been denied entry.
“The number 100,000 sucked the air out of my lungs,” Simon Sandoval-Moshenberg of the Legal Aid Justice Center told The Washington Post.
Sean Spicer, the White House spokesman, when asked about the case during his daily briefing, said he had no information about it.
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Administration officials have said the 90-day pause in arrivals from those countries is necessary to review and perhaps tighten the vetting process. But the order sparked protests at airports across the country and opposition from corporate leaders because of how it would restrict travel.
The State Department issued more than 600,000 immigrant visas such as the ones involved in the JFK lawsuit last year. Those included 7,727 to Iranians, 3,660 to Iraqis, 383 to Libyans, 1,797 to Somalians, 2,606 to Sudanese, 2,633 to Syrians and 12,998 to Yemenis.
The department also granted nearly 11 million non-immigrant visas in 2015, the most recent year available, including 29,007 Iranians, 11,399 Iraqis, 1,613 Libyans, 219 Somalians, 4,354 Sudanese, 9,003 Syrians and 3,787 Yemenis.
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