The aftermath of Donald Trump’s executive order on refugees is turning into a cavalcade of comedy.
First, a DHS spokesman said permanent legal residents of the United States would be denied their rights and be prevented from returning to the U.S. from abroad.
Then an administration official amended that by saying that permanent residents would have their situation reviewed on a case-by-case basis.
Now, White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus is saying the executive order doesn’t affect green-card holders at all.
Who’s on first, what’s on second, and I don’t know’s on third.
Green card holders will not be included in President Donald Trump’s executive order barring travelers from seven countries, a top White House official said Sunday.
Trump signed an executive order Friday temporarily prohibiting persons from seven terror-prone countries — Syria, Iraq, Iran, Yemen, Libya, Sudan, and Somalia — from entering the U.S. Reports initially indicated that green card holders who traveled to one of the countries listed would be unable to return, however, White House officials have since clarified the issue.
“It will bar green card holders,” Gillian Christensen, acting Department of Homeland Security spokeswoman, told Reuters Saturday.
A senior administration official then said green card holders from the seven affected countries who are presently located outside the U.S. would need a case-by-case waiver to return.
top White House official presented an alternative explanation Sunday morning.
“As far as green card holders, moving forward, it doesn’t affect them,” Reince Priebus, the White House chief of staff, said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” Sunday.
Green card holders returning from one of the countries listed in Trump’s latest executive order will, however, be subject to “additional scrutiny,” and the Department of Homeland Security retains the “discretionary authority” to detain suspicious travelers for further questioning, Priebus revealed.
“If you’re an American citizen traveling back and forth to Libya, you are likely to be subjected to further questioning when you come into an airport,” he explained. “There is a discretionary authority that a customs and border patrol agent has when they suspect that someone is up to no good when they travel back and forth to Libya or Yemen.”
Priebus said green card holders returning from any of the seven countries listed would be “subjected, temporarily, to more questioning, until a better system is put in place.”
Priebus explained that he was not overruling the Department of Homeland Security, which said Sunday it will faithfully execute the president’s order.
Department of Homeland Security officials said it would act “in a manner that ensures the safety and security of the American people.” The department praised the order as a “first step towards reestablishing control over America’s borders and national security.”
This is exactly what customs was doing before the executive order. They have the right and responsibility to question anyone returning from abroad — visitor, green-card holder, or citizen — if they suspect something is amiss.
Someone must have whispered in the president’s ear that the first challenge to the interpretation of the executive order that prevented green card-holders from returning home from overseas would be a slam dunk for the plaintiff.
But beyond the ignorance of the law and incompetent prosecution of the order, there is a question of why the massive chaos. It appears that the Trump administration didn’t bother to consult relevant agencies about how to go about implementing the order. If they had, you wouldn’t have seen TSA goons waylaying grandmothers on their way to visit their families.
The green-card imbroglio shows what happens when you give bureaucrats the power to interpret the law by their own lights. I hope Trump has learned his lesson at least on that score.