US revokes 60,000 visas after Trump's travel ban

US revokes 60,000 visas after Trump's travel ban
The US has cancelled 60,000 visas since President Donald Trump signed the controversial immigration order banning people from seven Muslim-majority countries, according to the State Department.

The order signed by Trump last week imposes a 90-day pause on the entry into the US of nationals from Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Iran, Somalia, Libya, and Yemen.

"Fewer than 60,000 individuals' visas were provisionally revoked to comply with the executive order. We recognise that those individuals are temporarily inconvenienced while we conduct our review under the executive order," said Will Cocks, spokesperson for Bureau of Consular Affairs Department of State. "To put that number in context, we issued over 11 million immigrant and non-immigrant visas in fiscal year 2015. As always, national security is our top priority when issuing visas," Cocks said.

The pause does not apply to Lawful Permanent Residents, dual citizens with passports from a country other than the seven listed, or those travelling on diplomatic, NATO or UN visas, the Department of Homeland Security said.

Special Immigrant Visa holders of these seven countries may board US-bound planes, and apply for and receive a national interest exception to the pause upon arrival, the Department of Homeland Security said. "Importantly, these seven countries are the only countries to which the pause on entry applies. No other countries face such treatment. Nor have any other countries been identified as warranting future inclusion at this time, contrary to false reports," it said.

As directed by the Executive Order, the Department of Homeland Security is working with Department of State and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence to conduct a country-by-country review of the information provided by countries in order for their nationals to apply for myriad visas, immigration benefits, or otherwise seek admission into the US.

"This review is needed to ensure that individuals seeking to enter the US are who they claim to be and do not pose a security or public-safety threat," a statement said, adding that the results of this review will be provided to the President within 30 days of the executive order's signing.

This review will determine which countries do not provide adequate information on their nationals seeking immigration benefits or admission into the US. The goal is to ensure that those admitted to this country do not bear hostile attitudes toward the US and its founding principles.

Based on that report, the State Department will ask any foreign governments who were determined to not supply adequate information on their nationals to begin providing such information within 60 days.

"In order to protect Americans, and to advance the national interest, the United States must ensure that we have adequate information about individuals seeking to enter this country to ensure that they do not bear malicious intent toward the United States and its people," the statement said. House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer said the wide impact of this ban should be deeply concerning to all Americans. "This ban is not only dividing families and violating our highest principles, it is also making us less safe and plays right into the hands of ISIS and other terror groups. It ought to be reversed immediately," Hoyer said.

In a letter to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson Senator Patrick Leahy sought specific details on the number of individuals, including US citizens and valid green card holders who were banned, detained, or mistreated when trying to enter the US following the president's order signed last week.

Trump's order has been challenged in federal court, and three district court judges ruled that at least parts of the order may be unconstitutional. "The Executive Order has caused widespread confusion and created uncertainty for countless refugees, asylum seekers, and others who currently possess or were approved for visas.

This uncertainty threatens to put men, women, and children fleeing war, violence, and persecution at risk of death and injury," Leahy wrote. "Access to counsel is an intrinsic and basic right in our justice system. It is imperative that individuals receive the legal protections they deserve and a fair opportunity to seek asylum in this country from persecution and violence," he said.
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