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Influx of Refugees Cited By Trump After Court Ruling Were Previously Approved

Trump citing a report that 77 percent of refugees admitted to the U.S. in a week are from seven nations targeted for by his blocked travel order.
Donald Trump
President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with airline executives in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, Thursday, Feb. 9, 2017.Evan Vucci / AP

President Donald Trump said Saturday that last week's court order suspending his recent executive order had allowed for a "dangerous" influx of refugees from seven predominantly Muslim countries.

"Our legal system is broken!" Trump tweeted. "77% of refugees allowed into U.S. since travel reprieve hail from seven suspect countries. (WT) SO DANGEROUS!"

The President was referencing the Washington Times, which first reported the increase Thursday.

That percentage of the around 1,400 refugees admitted to the U.S. from Feb. 4 to Feb. 10 — after the federal judge blocked Trump’s order — is over 70 percent, according to the State Department.

But a State Department official said the surge was due to a backlog of previously-vetted refugees that were initially blocked by Trump’s Jan. 27 order, rather than a rush to admit new refugees from Iran, Iraq, Syria, Somalia, Sudan, Libya and Yemen.

Related: Trump Could Refile New Order After Travel 'Ban' Court Setback

The refugees that made up over 70 percent of admitted people in the week after the judge blocked Trump’s order had already undergone an 18-month to two-year vetting process and had been scheduled to arrive into the U.S., the State Department said.

Trump’s Jan. 27 order suspended the admittance of all refugees for 120 days, and indefinitely suspended refugees from Syria, citing terrorism concerns. Some exceptions were granted for those already in transit when the order was signed.

The order also suspended for 90 days entry to the U.S. of nationals from Sudan, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Iran, Iraq and Yemen.

Related: Appeals Court Refuses to Reinstate Trump Travel Order

Of the 843 refugees admitted in the week following Trump’s order, from Jan. 28 to Feb. 3, only two people were from the seven nations, according to the State Department. One refugee from Somalia moved to Minneapolis and one Iraqi refugee resettled in Houston.

That created a backlog of people from the seven affected countries who had been scheduled to come to the U.S. before Trump’s executive action.

After U.S. District Judge James L. Robart in Seattle issued a temporary restraining order that put Trump’s order on hold nationwide, the State Department said it focused primarily on rescheduling travel for those refugees whose travel had been canceled the previous week.

The majority of refugees admitted that following week, from Feb. 4 to Feb. 10, were from Syria, at 402, and Iraq, at 340. One hundred and fifty-five refugees were from Somalia and 115 were from Iran, according to State Department records. No refugees were admitted from Libya or Yemen and a little over 30 came from Sudan.

Related: Here Are Three Potential Fixes to the 'Travel Ban' Order

While it is true that those refugees had been blocked by Trump’s order until it was put on hold, the overall number of refugees from the seven nations is consistent with last year’s numbers rather than an overall increase, State Department records show.

Averaging admissions from those two weeks, 46 percent — or a little over 1,050 of the 2,300 refugees resettled in the U.S. were from the seven countries in question. This is one percent over the average for 2016.