WASHINGTON D.C. – According to the White House, U.S. President Donald Trump's executive order banning the citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the U.S. was "a massive success story in terms of implementation on every single level,” a senior official in the Trump administration said on Sunday. The official added that the order was being implemented “seamlessly” and with “extraordinary professionalism.”
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The senior official explained that while more than 300,000 people enter the U.S. on a typical day, "109 people were set aside for further questioning for additional security screenings," adding that this was a "fractional, marginal, miniscule, percentage of travelers to our airports on any given day.”
In addition, the senior official said that the United States "is under no obligation to admit any particular person and we have a right to develop a system in which we’re selecting immigrants that we think will be able to make positive contributions to U.S. society.”
The remarks come after a second day of mass protests against Trump's executive order in cities across the U.S., and on the back of multiple reports of confusion and chaos in the country's largest airports, as customs officials, attorneys and senior politicians struggle over the implementation of the new and controversial immigration policy.
On Sunday, thousands of people gathered in front of the White House to take part in a demonstration that was organized within hours, after thousands of others showed up the previous night to protest against the travel ban at Dulles International Airport outside the city.
On Capitol Hill, meanwhile, Senators Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and Dick Durbin (D-IL) called for an investigation into the Department of Homeland Security's implementation of the executive order, which the two snators say might have violated U.S. laws and court orders given on Friday night.
In a letter to the Inspector General of the department, Duckworth and Durbin asked to investigate whether Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers at airports were informed of the court orders limiting some of the executive action's implementations, and whether they violated these court orders or respected them.
They also wanted to investigate "what complaints about violations of court orders have been received and how they were resolved" and "what guidance and training was provided to CBP employees to make sure the executive order was implemented in a consistent and fair manner that protected the constitutional rights of all detained individuals."
"We are deeply concerned by [Customs and Border Protection’s] failure to respond to time-sensitive Congressional oversight inquiries and allegations that the agency refused to permit attorneys to meet with detained lawful permitted residents at airports across the country,” the Senators wrote. "The United States Constitution means little if law enforcement agents disregard it," they added.
The senior administration official claimed that the relevant agencies did not receive any advanced notice regarding the executive order, but refused to explain why, saying only that "everybody can use their imagination to imagine 25 reasons why that wouldn’t make sense from a security standpoint.”