U.S. News

U.S. watchdog agency to review implementation of Trump travel ban

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A watchdog agency at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security said it is planning to review how President Donald Trump’s immigration executive order to temporarily suspend travel from seven majority-Muslim nations was implemented.

A Department of Homeland Security officer prepares to stop traffic as security personnel transport Dylann Roof in a van after a jury sentenced him to death at the Charleston Federal Courthouse in Charleston, South Carolina January 10, 2017. REUTERS/Randall Hill

The review of Friday’s order was being planned “in response to congressional request and whistleblower and hotline complaints,” the DHS’s Office of Inspector General said in a statement late Wednesday.

The watchdog agency would also look at “DHS’ adherence to court orders and allegations of individual misconduct on the part of DHS personnel,” the statement said. “If circumstances warrant, the OIG will consider including other issues that may arise during the course of the review.”

The order, which barred Syrian refugees indefinitely and imposed a 90-day suspension on people from seven predominantly Muslim countries, triggered widespread protests and caused confusion for travelers around the world.

It also spurred several legal challenges, in particular over the initial detention or barring from flights of legal permanent residents who hold U.S. green cards.

The department does not comment on investigations by the Office of the Inspector General.

Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly said on Tuesday that no member of the Homeland Security team intentionally ignored a court order and that the department was in compliance with judicial orders on immigration.

The White House said on Wednesday it had issued updated guidance making clear green card holders would not need a waiver to enter the United States.

In California, a federal judge in Los Angeles ruled that Trump’s administration must allow immigrants with initial clearance for legal residency to enter the United States despite the ban. Massachusetts, New York, Virginia and Washington state have also challenged the order.

Ali Vayeghan, an Iranian citizen and U.S. visa holder who was forced out of the country last week, became on Thursday the first person allowed back into United States because of the California court action.

Vayeghan declined to comment on Trump or the order when speaking with reporters at Los Angeles International Airport but said through an interpreter, “This is what human rights look like.”

The OIG statement said it would provide a final report to Kelly, the U.S. Congress and the public after its review but didn’t say how long the review would take.

DHS includes the Customs and Border Protection and Immigration and Customs Enforcement agencies.

Democratic U.S. Senators Tammy Duckworth and Dick Durbin had sought the investigation.

“Though I’m encouraged by the DHS Inspector General’s decision to investigate the chaotic implementation of this un-American and unconstitutional executive order, I will continue to fight for it to be revoked,” Durbin said in a statement.

(This version of the story has been refiled to correct day to Thursday from Wednesday in paragraph 10)

Reporting by Eric Walsh and Doina Chiacu; Additional reporting by Olga Grigoryants in Los Angeles; Editing by Andrea Ricci and Alan Crosby