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DHS Watchdog to Review Travel Restriction Rollout

The DHS inspector general will review how federal agencies imposed travel restrictions under President Trump's controversial executive order.
Image: Demonstration Held At Reagan National Airport Against Trump's Recent Immigration Policy
Protesters rally against President Donald Trump's recent executive order halting refugee admissions for 120 days and banning entry to the U.S. for citizens of seven predominantly-Muslim nations, at Reagan National Airport, on Feb. 1, 2017 in Arlington, Va.Drew Angerer / Getty Images

The inspector general of the Department of Homeland Security will review how federal agencies imposed travel restrictions under President Trump's controversial executive order issued on Friday.

A spokeswoman said Inspector General John Roth ordered the review in response to complaints from members of Congress, whistleblowers and comments received on a government hotline. Trump's executive order temporarily halts a U.S. refugee program and indefinitely suspends the admission of Syrian refugees. It also imposes 90-day restrictions preventing entry by visa holders from seven predominantly-Muslim countries.

The inspector general will examine what steps DHS agencies took to put the executive order into effect as well as "adherence to court orders and allegations of individual misconduct on the part of DHS personnel," according to a statement from the inspector general's office.

Immigration lawyers complained that officials from two DHS components, U.S. Customs and Border Protection and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), refused to allow people detained under the order to seek legal help. Civil liberties groups said some of those detained were asked to sign documents that would surrender legal rights.

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Adding to the confusion, DHS at first said lawful permanent residents, or green-card holders, were barred from re-entry under the orders. But several hours later, the government said their status "was dispositive" in granting them waivers to return.

The new Homeland Security secretary, John Kelly, was asked about court orders issued Saturday, barring agents from sending anyone back who had a valid visa.

"To the best of our knowledge, no (Customs and Border Protection) officer knowingly, intentionally violated the court order."

Kevin McAleenan, acting Customs and Border Protection commissioner, said Tuesday that in some cases, airlines "overinterpreted our guidance" on which visa holders should be stopped from boarding U.S.-bound flights.

"I think it's fair to acknowledge that communications, publicly and interagency, haven't been the best in the initial rollout of this process."