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The U.S. government is set to allow 872 refugees into the country this week despite the ongoing suspension of the refugee program, which is part of the executive order signed by President Donald Trump on Friday.
An internal Homeland Security document shown to Reuters by a DHS official, under the condition of anonymity, confirmed that the State Department and Department of Homeland Security has granted waivers to the refugees because they had been considered cleared for resettlement and were “in transit” as the ban was signed.
Trump signed the executive order bans citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries for 90 days as the affected nations implement more stringent security measures. The nations are Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. The order also suspends the U.S. refugee program for 120 days and bans all Syrian refugees indefinitely.
The DHS document did not contain further details on who the individuals were or their nationalities, and the official did not know whether further exemptions to the travel ban would be granted. The refugees who will be let in had been vetted under the Obama administration, a process that can usually take up to two years.
Over the course of the weekend, according to the internal document, over 200 people were denied entry and 348 visa holders were denied travel to the U.S. In total, Customs and Border Protection officers detained 735 people for questioning, including 394 legal U.S. green card holders.
The imposed ban has resulted in widespread demonstrations at airports across the country. Further outrage and criticism followed when the White House defied a federal injunction issued late Saturday that had ordered a stay against portions of the executive order. Acting Attorney General Sally Yates, a 27-year Department of Justice veteran, was fired from her position by the Trump administration on Monday evening after stating that she refused to legally defend the executive order.
The temporary travel ban has, indeed, divided America. A Reuters/Ipsos opinion poll published on Tuesday found that while 49 percent of Americans who took part ‘strongly agreed’ with the executive order, 41 percent of participants ‘strongly disagreed,’ with the numbers mostly split along party lines.
Despite the chaos and confusion in its implementation and its controversial nature, it appears Trump at least retains the faith of the majority of Republicans.
David Gilmour is a reporter who specializes in national politics, internet culture, and technology.