The State Department said Friday fewer than 60,000 visas were revoked in the week since President Trump suspended travel arrivals for citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries.
The figure contradicted a Justice Department lawyer, who said in U.S. The District Court on Friday that 100,000 visas were revoked, according to news reports from CNN and The Washington Post.
The Department clarified that the higher figure used by the Justice Department lawyer included diplomatic and other visas that were exempted by the travel ban, as well as expired visas.
The revocation number was revealed Friday in a court case in Virginia involving two Yemeni brothers denied entry when they arrived at Virginia’s Dulles International Airport following Trump’s Jan. 27 orders. The executive action barred travelers from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. Attorneys general from several states, including Hawaii, Massachusetts, Washington and New York have challenged the order.
Later, Friday, U.S. District Judge James Robart in Washington state issued a nationwide restraining order blocking the travel ban. In issuing his decision, Robart was siding with Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson, who argued the order is causing significant harm to residents and effectively mandates discrimination Minnesota joined the suit.
Before the clarification in the Virginia case, Justice Department lawyer Erez Reuveni told Judge Leonie Brinkema that 100,000 visas had been rejected, according to CNN and the Post. Visas are temporary permits to enter the U.S. Reuveni said no legal permanent residents, or green-card holders, have been denied entry.
Sean Spicer, the White House spokesman, when asked about the case during his daily briefing, said he had no information about it.
Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., asked the secretaries of State and Homeland Security to provide details by Feb. 10 about how visa revocations and how many travelers have been denied entry.
“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.” Leahy wrote to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly. “This uncertainty threatens to put men, women, and children fleeing war violence, and persecution at risk of death and injury.”
Attorneys general in 16 states and the District of Columbia issued a statement condemning Trump’s order. The states are California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia and Washington.
“As the chief legal officers for over 130 million Americans and foreign residents of our states, we condemn President Trump’s unconstitutional, un-American and unlawful executive order and will work together to ensure the federal government obeys the Constitution, respects our history as a nation of immigrants, and does not unlawfully target anyone because of their national origin or faith,” the statement said.