State Dept. Disputes That 100K Visas Were Revoked Under Immigration Order

A government attorney disclosed during a Friday hearing in federal court in Virginia that 100,000 visas have been revoked in the chaos generated by President Donald Trump signing an executive order on immigration last week.

The State Department told the Associated Press, however, that the actual number of revoked visas is less than 60,000 and that the number given out in court Friday likely included exempt visa holders like “diplomatic and other visas that were actually exempted by the travel ban.”

In a statement to TPM, State Department Bureau of Consular Affairs spokesman William Cocks said the number of revoked visas was less than 60,000.

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“Fewer than 60,000 individuals’ visas were provisionally revoked to comply with the Executive Order,” Cocks said in the statement. “We recognize that those individuals are temporarily inconvenienced while we conduct our review under the Executive Order. 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.”

The Washington Post first reported that in court Friday morning, a the government’s lawyer explained that 100,000 visas had been revoted, but it was unclear how many of those visa holders had been returned to their home countries. Now, the number itself appears to be in question.

The court case in Virginia centers around two Yemeni men who landed Saturday at Dulles Airport and were returned to Ethiopia. They were detained coming to the United States to be with their father, who is a U.S. citizen in Michigan, and were then “coerced into renouncing their claims to legal permanent residence in the United States,” according to the Post.

The White House clarified two days ago that it was allowing green card holders back into the U.S. from the seven majority-Muslim nations affected by the executive order. Still, there has been confusion over the immigration order and how long it would take for issues like the deportation of some green card holders to fully resolve themselves.

When asked during the White House press briefing Friday if the 100,000 visas that had been revoked included individuals who were already in the U.S. and whether the government would begin deporting those people, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer was unsure.

“I’ll have to get back to you on that. I don’t have all the details on that right now,” Spicer said.

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