WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly said Tuesday during a congressional hearing that the Trump administration has no plans to add more countries to the list of countries whose citizens will be barred from entering the United States, contradicting a number of reports that stated this was a possibility.
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"We are right now contemplating no other countries," Kelly told the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Border and Maritime Security. He said that after such reports appeared, he was contacted by officials from other countries and told them that no such plans were being discussed. He did say, however, that the administration was "looking at" additional vetting schemes for people entering the United States.
In the last weekend of January, after U.S. President Donald Trump signed the executive order barring the citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the U.S., the administration was faced with questions on why Saudi Arabia, the country from which 15 of the terrorists who committed the 9/11 attacks came from, was not on the list, yet other countries, whose citizens have never committed terror attacks on U.S. soil, were included.
White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus answered at the time that "Perhaps other countries need to be added to an executive order going forward." In an interview to CBS, Priebus also said that "the countries that were chosen in the executive order to protect Americans from terrorists were the countries that have already been identified by Congress and the Obama administration. That does not mean that other countries wouldn't be added later to a subsequent executive order."
Kelly's testimony before the subcommittee on Tuesday seems to clarify that Priebus' earlier statement doesn't mean this possibility is actually being discussed within the Trump administration. Kelly also discussed the administration's promise to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border and said that he didn't expect a "full wall" to be put in place immediately, but that instead, the administration will examine different options to secure the border in different areas, including the construction of a wall where it will be necessary. He added that the methods of paying for the will are still being discussed within the administration.