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White House Says Green Card Holders Won’t be Subject to Immigration Order After All

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Hours after a federal judge blocked a key component of President Donald Trump’s executive order banning refugees and visitors from seven Muslim-majority countries, the White House is backtracking on the order’s applicability to legal permanent residents of the U.S.

“As far as green-card holders moving forward, it doesn’t affect them,” White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus said Sunday morning in an appearance on NBC’s Meet the Press. But he added that those green-card holders could be subject to additional interviews if they frequently travel to the countries in question. “You’re going to be subjected, temporarily, with more questioning,” he said.

The chaotic implementation of the Friday order could be seen nationwide, as students, travelers, and businesspeople hailing from Iraq, Iran, Syria, Sudan, Libya, Yemen and Somalia were forced to scrap travel plans. Dozens of U.S. green-card holders were detained at U.S. airports, as tearful family members filled television screens Saturday awaiting their reunification. A federal judge granted an emergency stay late Saturday to prevent the deportation of those who have arrived and are in transit to the U.S. with valid visas.

CNN reported Saturday that the White House overruled the Department of Homeland Security’s interpretation of the order to say that the order did include green-card holders. A senior Administration official told reporters Saturday that U.S. green-card holders from one of the affected countries currently abroad will need to apply for a waiver before being allowed to return to the U.S. Green-card holders from those countries currently in the U.S. would be required to meet with a consular officer before departing the country, the official added.

The White House defended the implementation of the order Saturday, commending the State Department and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for their efforts. But there were obvious signs that the government agencies weren’t prepared for the order’s scope. Career DHS officials were not allowed to review the final order until late Friday, just before its release, an official said. The case-by-case waiver process was still being developed Saturday, and guidance from the agencies to airports and carriers was incomplete even late Saturday.

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