White House Lowballs Impact of Trump Ban
President Donald Trump and White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer spent today saying 109 people were detained over the weekend, and that, therefore, the president’s executive order only had a minimal impact on travelers.
But numbers obtained by The Daily Beast indicate that the White House may be significantly understating the number of travelers impacted by that order, which initially banned all refugees, as well as travelers from seven majority-Muslim countries.
The numbers we obtained were compiled by Customs and Border Protection (CBP), and then emailed to senior DHS leaders early on Monday morning. A recipient of the email provided the information to The Daily Beast.
According to the email, 348 people were blocked from boarding flights into the U.S. before their flights departed.
An additional 200 to 250 people were denied entry to the U.S. once their flights landed. That’s part of a larger pool of 735 people at ports of entry who had encounters with CBP and could have been barred from entering the U.S. by the executive order.
Of that group, 394 were lawful permanent residents of the U.S., all but two of whom were eventually let in; of the remaining two lawful permanent residents, one person gave up on coming in and the other was entered into proceedings for a criminal record (likely because of an outstanding warrant).
The email also indicated that 872 refugees will arrive in the U.S. this week and will be allowed to enter the country. Reuters reported that a DHS official confirmed to them that those refugees have received waivers.
The number 109, which Spicer and Trump have both touted, was not mentioned in the email.
Numerous White House communications staffers did not return requests for comment on this from The Daily Beast. Neither did representatives for CBP.
It still isn't totally clear what exactly happened to the 109 people that Spicer and Trump have been referring to—whether they were held up in what's called secondary inspection for an extended period of time, placed in separate detention facilities, or something else. The New York Post reported at 8:30 on Jan. 30 that, according to The Department of Homeland Security, everyone who had been detained at airports was released.
Regardless, the CBP numbers indicate that Trump's executive order impacted the travel plans of significantly more people than the White House is saying.
In his first appearance as White House Press Secretary, Spicer misinformed reporters about the number of people who attended the inauguration.