The Latest: Kelly says Trump order isn’t Muslim ban
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly’s appearance before a congressional committee (all times local):
Homeland Secretary John Kelly says that Donald Trump’s travel ban affecting citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries isn’t a Muslim ban.
Kelly told a House panel Tuesday that “this is a pause right now as we sort these issues out.”
Republican lawmakers sought to reinforce Kelly’s message. Rep. Michael McCaul, chairman of the House Homeland Security panel, said even the suggestion of a Muslim ban could alienate allies and embolden adversaries.
Democratic lawmakers in their questioning of Kelly repeatedly used the term “Muslim ban” as they questioned Kelly about Trump’s immigration order.
The order, which also bars the entry of refugees, has been temporarily blocked by a judge.
Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly says there’s no one single solution to securing the United States’ border with Mexico. But he does agree with the U.S. placing more physical barriers along the stretch.
Kelly wouldn’t go so far as to say a wall is needed along the entire border, as called for by President Donald Trump. Kelly acknowledges that some places may be too rugged for a wall.
But Kelly says U.S. Customs and Border Protection workers he talks to say they need physical barriers backed up by people and technology. He says there are places where the U.S. needs some type of barrier “right now.”
Kelly calls the lack of fencing in some areas “a gaping wound in our defenses.”
In his testimony Tuesday before a House panel, Kelly said a layered defense also starts with drug demand reduction in the United States.
Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly says that the administration isn’t contemplating additions to the list of seven Muslim-majority countries whose citizens have been temporarily barred from entering the United States.
At a congressional hearing Tuesday, Kelly defended the travel ban, saying “the pause made an awful lot of sense.”
He noted that the U.S. doesn’t have an embassy in four of the countries. He said two of the seven are considered state-sponsors of terrorism.
Overall, Kelly says, he believes the vetting in those seven countries is inadequate to protect the United States.
The 90-day travel ban was part of an executive order issued by Trump, but temporarily blocked by a judge. It affects citizens of Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen.
Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly says he’s not sure if any foreigners who intend to do harm in the U.S. have been allowed into the United States since a federal judge blocked the government from carrying out President Donald Trump’s travel and immigration ban.
Kelly says federal authorities won’t know for sure “until the boom.”
“We won’t know until then,” Kelly says, referring to a possible attack.
Kelly was addressing questions Tuesday from Rep. Bennie Thompson, a Mississippi Democrat and the ranking member of the House Homeland Security Committee.
Thompson was asking about Trump’s tweet that “many very bad and dangerous people may be pouring into our country.” The president, in another tweet, said people “were pouring in.”
Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly says he wishes that the rollout of President Donald Trump’s travel ban had been delayed until he had a chance to prepare lawmakers for what was coming.
Kelly’s comment was the most direct acknowledgment by a high-level administration official that the rollout of Trump’s executive order had been mishandled.
Kelly was speaking Tuesday at a House Committee on Homeland Security hearing examining the order, which temporarily stopped entry to the U.S. from seven Muslim-majority nations and also temporarily bars the admission of refugees. A court has blocked the order, but the administration is appealing.
Kelly defended the order saying it will enhance public safety “for all our citizens.” Kelly said he believes it is constitutional and that Trump’s review of immigration policies is necessary.
Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly is heading to Capitol Hill for his first public appearance before lawmakers who are sure to press him for details about the Trump administration’s contentious rollout of a travel and refugee ban.
He will testify before the House Homeland Security Committee.
Kelly has said the ban was intended to keep the country safe while the administration reviews how some visitors, refugees and would-be immigrants are screened before they are allowed into the United States. The travel ban has been on hold since a federal judge in Washington state temporarily barred the government from enforcing it. The administration is appealing the order.
The retired Marine general is also likely to get questions about President Donald Trump’s proposed border wall and immigration enforcement plans.