A government lawyer said in federal court Friday morning that more than 100,000 visas have been revoked as a result of President Donald Trump’s executive order on refugees and immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries. But a State Department official later placed the estimate at almost half that.
“The number 100,000 really sucked the air out of my lungs,” said Simon Sandoval-Moshenberg of the Legal Aid Justice Center, who represents two brothers from Yemen who were detained after arriving at Dulles Airport on Saturday and filed the original lawsuit that Virginia just joined.
“I think you could almost hear the collective gasp in the courtroom when the government attorney stated that number that over 100,000 visas have been cancelled.”
In light of the President’s order — which banned Syrian refugees indefinitely, all other refugees for 120 days, and residents of seven Muslim-majority countries for 90 days — multiple court orders were issued that rolled back some of the ban’s heavier restrictions.
The State Department, however, said fewer than 60,000 individuals’ visas were provisionally revoked to comply with the Executive Order,” according to CNN.
There has been disagreement on the extent of the order and the manner in which it has been portrayed. White House press secretary Sean Spicer said earlier in the week that individuals being “temporarily inconvenienced” in an airport as a result of the president’s action was a price worth paying for safety. He spoke specifically about 109 people who had been detained. “I think that the safety of our country, the safety of our people is always going to be at the forefront of this president’s head, and this is where he wants to go. So again, I think that we’ve got to keep all of this into proportion. We had 109 people that were temporarily detained,” Spicer said.
The Daily Beast reported contents of a leaked government document that stated more than 500 people were either blocked from boarding flights into the United States or were denied entry into the country once they landed.
All of these figures, however, applied to people actively in the process of traveling. The 100,000 figure cited by the government Friday put a number to potential travelers, one whose size came as a shock to many inside the Virginia courtroom and a press that had been reporting on totals only in the hundreds.
This post originally appeared on Weekly Standard