Fact check: Trump claims on travel ban misleading
Washington — In the face of widespread criticism, President Donald Trump has staunchly defended his order temporarily banning refugees and nearly all citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries. But in a statement Sunday and tweets Monday, Trump misstated the facts multiple times.
What Trump said and how it compares with the facts:
Trump: In a Twitter message Monday, he said “Only 109 people out of 325,000 were detained and held for questioning. Big problems at airports were caused by Delta computer outage.”
The facts: According to a federal law enforcement official briefed on the implementation of the order, nearly 400 green-card holders actually were delayed after arriving at U.S. airports after the travel ban was signed. As of Sunday afternoon, one legal permanent resident had been denied entry as a result of the order, according to the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the person wasn’t allowed to discuss the matter publicly.
Delta Airlines did report a computer problem that forced the cancellation of more than 150 flights on Sunday. The chaos and protests at airports around the country began before that happened and were related to the travel ban, not delayed or cancelled flights.
Trump: In a White House statement Sunday, he said “My policy is similar to what President (Barack) Obama did in 2011 when he banned visas for refugees from Iraq for six months.”
The facts: That’s not exactly what happened. According to State Department data, 9,388 Iraqi refugees were admitted to the United States during the 2011 budget year. The data also show that Iraqi refugees were admitted every month during the 2011 calendar year.
The Obama administration did slow processing for Iraqi nationals seeking refuge in the U.S. under the government’s Special Immigrant Visa program for translators and interpreters who worked with American troops in Afghanistan and Iraq. That happened after two Iraqi nationals were arrested on terrorism-related charges. But that year, 618 Iraqis were allowed to enter the U.S. with that special visa.
Government data show that during the 2011 budget year, more than 7,800 Iraqis were allowed into the United States on non-immigrant visas, including tourists.
Trump: In the same statement, he said “The seven countries named in the Executive Order are the same countries previously identified by the Obama administration as sources of terror.”
The facts: That is misleading. The Republican-led Congress in 2015 voted to require visas and additional security checks for foreign citizens who normally wouldn’t need visas — such as those from Britain — if they had visited the seven countries: Iraq, Iran, Syria, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen. This was included in a large spending bill passed overwhelmingly by Congress and signed by Obama.
As the law was enacted, the Obama administration announced that journalists, aid workers and others who traveled to the listed countries for official work could apply for exemptions.