State contradicts DOJ: Fewer than 60K visas revoked

The State Department on Friday contradicted a Justice Department lawyer who earlier in the day told a federal judge that over 100,000 visas were revoked to comply with President Trump’s temporary ban on travel from seven Muslim-majority countries.

The actual number is far lower, according to State.

“Fewer than 60,000 individuals’ visas were provisionally revoked to comply with the executive order,” said Will Cocks, spokesman for the department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs.

The State Department is the custodian of the relevant records, a separate spokesperson noted. The agency stands by those numbers and is trying to identify the source of the discrepancy, the spokesperson told The Hill.

A Justice Department attorney mentioned the higher figure during a hearing in a lawsuit filed on behalf of two Yemenis who arrived at Dulles International Airport but were sent back to Ethiopia due to Trump’s executive order.

The attorney did not provide a specific number of visa holders sent back to their home countries from the airport, located in the Virginia suburbs of Washington, D.C.

The White House has downplayed the policy’s effect on people in transit after chaos and protests erupted at airports around the country last Friday.

Officials have repeatedly pointed to 109 people who were detained upon entering the U.S. immediately after the ban took effect.

That figure only applied to people who were affected “very early on,” Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly said this week.

“I mean, it was the first day of the thing that evening. Of course, over time, that number would increase,” he told reporters on Tuesday. 

The order has sparked more than a dozen legal challenges.

The Department of Homeland Security inspector general's office announced earlier in the week that it is investigating the implementation of the order.

Reports have suggested that the White House provided little guidance to the agencies responsible for executing the order.

Confusion reigned as to whether legal permanent residents would be affected by the ban, and an eleventh-hour court order halting part of the order also created uncertainty. Some reports alleged that Customs and Border Patrol officers failed to comply with a separate restraining order that required the agency to provide legal permanent residents at Dulles Airport with access to attorneys.

The White House has called the order a great success and said the implementation went smoothly.