Homeland Security Official: "Nobody Has Any Idea What Is Going On"

Suggesting that little execution planning went into the implementation of Trump's controversial executive order temporarily banning the admission of refugees and travellers from seven countries, less than 24 hours later the impact was already resonating at airports around the world and could best be summarized in one word: confusion. It was most evident at New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport where a dozen people were detained and some separated from family members, according to lawmakers and attorneys scrambling to get them released and struggling to interpret the new rules.

Two of the 12 are Iraqi refugees, and one of them — identified as Hameed Khalid Darweesh — was released Saturday afternoon following his detention, said New York Rep. Jerrold Nadler. "I am very, very thankful to all the people who can support," Darweesh told reporters as he was surrounded by dozens of protesters carrying signs that read "Refugees welcome" and "No ban, no wall."

"America is the greatest nation," Darweesh added. "America is the greatest people in the world."

Nadler said it was unclear why Darweesh was released while the other 11 remained held at the airport Saturday afternoon. They could be transferred to an immigration detention center in New Jersey to meet with immigration lawyers, Nadler added. As NBC reports, although Darweesh was detained upon arrival into the United States, his family was not — showing how the executive order is being enforced so "arbitrarily," said Mark Doss, a supervising attorney at the nonprofit International Refugee Assistance Project. The organization is part of a group attempting to secure the release of the two Iraqi refugees.

The men, who were identified in a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union as Darweesh and Haider Sameer Abdulkhaleq Alshawi, whose wife and child are lawful permanent residents of Houston. Alshawi is on a "follow to join" visa, according to the ACLU. The two Iraqi men arrived on different flights and were held after the executive orders came into effect at midnight.

In an attempt to mitigate the confusion, a senior Trump administration official told reporters that the two Iraqi men, which included Darweesh, were getting waivers allowing them to stay in the United States, however it was unclear whether the remaining people detained at Kennedy airport would also receive such waivers.

But the best indication of just how little planning apparently had gone into the execution of the Trump EO came from a source inside the DHS itself.

As NBC reports, the State Department and Customs and Border Patrol on Saturday were still devising the formal rules for who is eligible for waivers — such rules were not written up before the executive order was implemented. The Trump administration also has yet to issue guidance to airports and airlines on how to implement the executive order. "Nobody has any idea what is going on," a senior Homeland Security official told NBC News.

The official said it would have been "reckless and irresponsible" to issue guidelines before the executive order was signed because of security reasons.

Meanwhile, as reported previously, the International Rescue Committee called the decision to halt the U.S. refugee resettlement program a "harmful and hasty" decision: the United Nations refugee agency and International Organization for Migration called on the Trump administration to continue offering asylum to people fleeing war and persecution, saying its resettlement program was vital.

In Paris on Saturday, French Minister of Foreign Affairs Jean-Marc Ayrault said Trump's orders "can only worry us." "Welcoming refugees who flee war and oppression is part of our duty," Ayrault said in comments carried by Reuters.

Qatar Airways issued a statement on its website that said nationals from Syria, Iraq, Iran, Sudan, Somalia, Yemen and Libya may only travel to the U.S. if they are in possession of a resident green card or specific visas usually granted to government employees, individuals traveling to the United Nations or employees of international organizations.

Tech giant Google also issued a statement Saturday revealing its worries about the executive actions.

"We're concerned about the impact of this order and any proposals that could impose restrictions on Googlers and their families, or that could create barriers to bringing great talent to the US," the statement read. "We'll continue to make our views on these issues known to leaders in Washington and elsewhere."

Then moments ago, Apple CEO Tim Cook said that Trump's immigration order "is not a policy we support."

None of this, however, frazzled Trump who explained "it's not a Muslim ban, but we are totally prepared." The president addressed media gathered in the Oval Office on Saturday afternoon as he signed three new executive orders on lobbying, a plan to defeat the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and a reorganization of the National Security Council. 

"It's working out very nicely. You see it in the airports, you see it all over. It's working out very nicely and we are going to have a very, very strict ban and we are going to have extreme vetting, which we should have had in this country for many years," Trump said.


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