Over 100,000 visas have been revoked since U.S. President Donald Trump one week ago issued an executive order temporarily barring refugees and people from seven Middle Eastern and North African countries from entering the United States, a government attorney told the Washington Post on Friday.
But moments later, the U.S. State Department said that fewer than 60,000 visas had been canceled under Trump’s order, contradicting the lawyer’s figure, according to an AP report.
The attorney revealed the data during a hearing in a lawsuit filed on behalf of two Yemeni brothers who arrived last Saturday at Dulles International Airport, near Washington D.C., but were sent back to Ethiopia due to the controversial order issued, according to the Washington Post report.
“The number 100,000 sucked the air out of my lungs,” said Simon Sandoval-Moshenberg of the Legal Aid Justice Center, who represents the brothers, identified as Tareq and Ammar Aqel Mohammed Aziz, in Alexandria federal court, Virginia.
For people like the Yemeni brothers, the U.S. administration appears to be attempting a case-by-case reprieve. They and other plaintiffs in lawsuits around the United State are being offered new visas and the opportunity to come to the United States in exchange for dropping their suits, said the report.
Sean Spicer, the White House spokesman, when asked about the case during his daily briefing, said he had no information about it.
The White House has downplayed the order’s effects on people in transit after chaos and protests erupted at airports around the country last Friday.
Under the executive order Trump signed on Jan. 27, refugees from all over the world will be suspended U.S. entry for 120 days while all immigration from so-called “countries with terrorism concerns” will be suspended for 90 days. Countries included in the ban are Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen. Total population from these countries exceeds 130 million.
Last Sunday, tens of thousands of protesters rallied before the White House, at more than 30 U.S. airports, and in central downtown of big cities including Boston, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Los Angeles, Seattle and Chicago.