Homeland Security John Kelly said he would not gamble with american lives
John Kelly claimed the controversial executive order was not made to persecute Muslims, but instead to help protect US citizens from potentially deadly terror attacks on their own soil.
It was revealed 720 travellers from the seven affected countries had been stopped as they tried boarding flights to the US in the last few days.
But the Department hit back at claims the Trump ban was not sympathetic to those fleeing war-torn countries – claiming a further 872 refugees would be allowed into the US this week.
Travellers with dual-nationalities woll also be welcomed into the country if they travel on their alternative passport.
Trump's travel ban has sparked protests across the globe
Mr Kelly’s comments came during a press conference with other department officials to discuss implementation of the President's executive orders on immigration
He said: “This is not a ban on muslims
“The homeland security mission is to safeguard the american people, our homeland, our values, and our religious liberty is one of our most treasured values.
“It is important to understand there are terrorists and other bad actors who are seeking to infiltrate our homeland every single day.
Officials revealed US border controls team has stopped 720 travellers in the last few days
“The seven countries designated in the executive order are those named by congress in the Obama administration as requiring additional security when making decision about how comes into our homeland.
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“It is easier to play defence on the fifty yard line than on the one yard line.
“By preventing terrorists from entering our country we can stop terror attacks striking our homeland.
“We cannot gamble with american lives, and I will not gamble with american lives.
“These orders are a matter of national security and i have sworn responsibility to protect and deend the american people.
Mr Kelly insisted President Donald Trump’s travel ban is not a ban on Muslims
Officials revealed US border controls team has stopped 720 travellers from the seven affected countries from boarding flights to the US in recent days.
A further 872 refugees are expected to be arriving in the US this week and will be processed for waivers.
Travellers with dual citizenship will be able to use their passport from a country other than one of the seven affected by the ban, however.
But officers will be carrying out searches on websites and social media accounts when screening visa applicants.
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Mr Kelly added his team would continue to enforce Trump's executive orders humanely and with professionalism.
He said: “We are and will remain in compliance with judicial orders.
“We are and will continue to enforce President Donald Trump’s executive orders with professionalism.
“Our job is to protect the homeland. These executive orders do that.”
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He added: “We have to be convinced that people that come here, theres a reasonable expectation that we don’t know who they are, and what they’re coming here for, what their backgrounds are.
“And right now theres a number of countries on the plant that don’t have that kind of record keeping, police-work, that kind of thing.
“The seven in question right now for the most part fall under that category.
“So we are developing what additional vetting, extreme vetting, might look like and we will certainly work with other countries on this.”
Another 872 refugees are expected to be arriving in the US this week
We cannot gamble with american lives, and I will not gamble with american lives.
John Kelly, Homeland Security Secretary
The meeting comes just a day after it was revealed Donald Trump acted so swiftly on closing US borders to people from seven Muslim-majority countries, his new Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly found out about it on television.
Mr Kelly was given his first briefing on the plans as he flew back to Washington from Miami.
But before the plane had touched down – and halfway through the briefing – someone taking part in the call looked up at the television in his office to see the order was already being signed.
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The former marine general, who was chosen by Donald Trump for his military experience, is reportedly “frustrated” over how the order was rolled out so quickly.
On Saturday night a federal judge in New York temporarily blocked the order for citizens who had already arrived in the US and those who were already in transit and held a valid US visa.
And the US Homeland Security vowed to comply with the judicial orders, which would limit part of Mr Trump’s plan to bar all citizens from Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan. Libya, Somalia and Yemen from entering in the US for the next 90 days.
Mr Kelly was given his first briefing on the plans as he flew back to Washington
Earlier today, Iraq’s Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi revealed he would not retaliate against the ban.
When asked at a news conference if he would act on the Iraqi parliament's vote in favour of retaliation, he said: "We will not do anything of the sort.
"We are studying possible decisions but we are in a battle and we don't want to harm the national interest.”