Kelly Defends Immigration Order as Key Republican Knocks Rollout

-In his first appearance before Congress since being sworn in, Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly offered both a defense of the Trump travel ban and an apology for the way it was implemented.

The abrupt rollout of President Trump's executive order temporarily suspending immigration from seven terror-prone countries "is all on me", Homeland Security Secretary Jack Kelly told a congressional hearing on Tuesday.

Republican lawmakers sought to reinforce Kelly's message. Federal Judge James Robart, who serves in the state of Washington, previously suspended it, prompting personal attacks from Trump. "And it caused real problems for people with lawful green cards and visas, who in some cases were already in the air when the order was signed".

A USA appeals court will hold a hearing on Tuesday on the order, which President Donald Trump's government is defending as a "lawful exercise" of presidential power and necessary to protect the country from terror attacks. The president, in another tweet, said people "were pouring in".

At the same time, however, he apologized for the failure to consult with Congress.

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, in his first testimony before Congress since being confirmed on January 20, promised to work more closely with congressional leaders before taking action to execute an executive order as dramatic as Trump's travel ban. The designation means voting machines, voter registration systems, polling places and other assets important to holding elections are eligible for priority cyber-security assistance from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

In his testimony today, Secretary Kelly called for expanded vetting of those seeking entry to our country including for refugees. He emphasized that the ban was not created to discriminate against Muslims, but was directed against states with insufficient security procedures.

(Kelly) "My feeling is the vetting on the other end in those seven countries are suspect". Trump has insisted Mexico will pay for the wall, but Mexican officials have said their country won't foot the bill.

Committee Chairman Michael McCaul, a Republican from Texas, said he was encouraged Trump took steps to intensify the vetting of people seeking to enter the USA, including refugees, through executive orders. While some so-called sanctuary cities have defended their policies to keep local policing separate from federal immigration enforcement, Texas is now considering a bill that would force local police to make immigration enforcement part of their duties.

But Kelly says U.S. Customs and Border Protection workers he talks to say they need physical barriers backed up by people and technology.

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