According to a government attorney speaking in federal court on Friday, over 100,000 visas were revoked following the sudden implementation of President Donald Trump’s controversial immigration ban. Washington Post reporter Justin Jouvenal, who was covering a trial pertaining to two Yemeni brothers’ lawsuit (among many others) following their detention at and deportation from Dulles International Airport on Saturday, broke the news on Twitter. The new number calls into question Press Secretary Sean Spicer’s declaration on Sunday that, despite all the backlash, Trump’s executive order only detrimentally affected 109 people.
Erez Reuveni from the Justice Department’s Office of Immigration Litigation revealed the new tally in court Friday morning. Tareq and Ammar Aqel Mohammed Aziz’s representative, Simon Sandoval-Moshenberg, told the Washington Post it “sucked the air out of my lungs.” What’s more, the number and the travel ban that caused it moved Judge Leonie M. Brinkema to berate Reuveni, the Justice Department and the White House for the “chaos” that resulted — even though the government lawyer admitted all green card holders were eventually allowed into the country:
“It’s quite clear that not all the thought went into it that should have gone into it,” Brinkema said. “There has been chaos… without any kind of actual hard evidence that there is a need” to revoke visas already granted. People had relied on their visas as valid, she said; families had expected to be reunited with loved ones.
However, Brinkema admitted the White House has “almost unfettered” power on all things national security. She also decided not to hold any government officials in contempt over concerns that U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials had reportedly ignored several court-ordered stays. These allegedly resulted in government personnel mistreating detainees, the lawyers and legal advocates trying to help them, members of the press, and protesters at various airports.
The judge ultimately expanded the original order by a week, but has yet to release any details. On Monday the Post reported, Spicer’s “109” number was incorrect, as at least 90,000 people were then known to have been affected by the travel ban.
UPDATE #1: According to the Associated Press, the State Department is now claiming less than 60,000 visas were canceled due to Trump’s immigration ban — thereby contradicting Reuveni’s figure of over 100,000.
UPDATE #2: The Post reports State Department spokesperson Virginia Elliott confirmed the actual number of visas revoked was “roughly 60,000,” and that it “has no impact on the legal status of people already in the United States.” Meanwhile, Judge Brinkema ordered the Trump administration to provided Virginia with a list of all state residents “denied entry to or removed from the United States” because of the ban. The White House has until Thursday, February 9 to comply.