After outcry, U.S. loosens curb on re-entry by green card holders

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By Doina Chiacu and Susan Heavey | WASHINGTON

WASHINGTON The administration of President
Donald Trump loosened a restriction on legal residents holding
green cards returning to the United States from overseas travel
after a weekend of confusion, protests and worldwide outcry over
a sweeping immigration order.

The executive order signed by Trump on Friday afternoon
curtailing travel by citizens of seven predominantly Muslim
countries was met with befuddlement at airports as customs and
immigration agents grappled with the new rules.

Protests erupted around the country, lawsuits were filed and
a federal judge blocked deportation of those detained under the
order, which drew criticism from immigration and human rights
activists, Democratic lawmakers and leading Republicans.

Senator Bob Corker, the Republican chairman of the U.S.
Senate Foreign Relations Committee and a Trump supporter, said
the president’s order had been poorly implemented, particularly
for green card holders.

“The administration should immediately make appropriate
revisions, and it is my hope that following a thorough review
and implementation of security enhancements that many of these
programs will be improved and reinstated,” Corker said.

The Department of Homeland Security, which oversees customs,
border and immigration agencies, struggled to interpret and
implement the order over the weekend.

The fate of green card holders was a particular point of
confusion, with both DHS and administration officials saying
citizens of the seven affected countries holding U.S. green
cards would be denied re-entry without a rescreening process.

All U.S. green card holders, who are legal permanent U.S.
residents, were included in Trump’s executive action and were
required to undergo additional screening before re-entering the
country, administration officials said on Saturday.

Late on Sunday, Homeland Security said those legal permanent
residents would be admitted, subject to security checks.

“Importantly, however, lawful permanent residents of the
United States traveling on a valid I-551 will be allowed to
board U.S. bound aircraft and will be assessed for exceptions at
arrival ports of entry, as appropriate,” it said in a statement.

Senior Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway on Monday said the
green card guidelines were not altered but needed clarification. “It wasn’t a rollback,” she said on CNBC.

Trump defended the executive order as in the interests of
national security and said the seven countries targeted had been
identified as “sources of terror” by the Obama administration.

In a statement released after a chaotic weekend, the new
Republican president expressed compassion for Syrians affected
by civil war and others fleeing oppression and stressed that the
United States will begin issuing visas to all countries once
security measures were reviewed.

Trump rejected criticism that the order amounted to a Muslim
ban, saying more than 40 majority Muslim countries were not
affected.

In a pair of Twitter posts early on Monday, Trump appeared
to blame airport confusion on protesters, Democratic Senator
Chuck Schumer, who had teared up while talking about the ban,
and even a computer system failure at Delta Airlines late
Sunday.

“Only 109 people out of 325,000 were detained and held for
questioning. Big problems at airports were caused by Delta
computer outage … protesters and the tears of Senator (Chuck)
Schumer. Secretary Kelly said that all is going well with very
few problems. MAKE AMERICA SAFE AGAIN!” he wrote.

The issue hung over the Screen Actors Guild awards in
Hollywood, where stars slammed Trump for restricting entry.

“Because I love this country, I am horrified by its
blemishes, and this immigrant ban is a blemish,” said Julia
Louis-Dreyfus, who won best comedy TV actress for her portrayal
of U.S. President Selina Meyer on HBO’s political satire “Veep.”



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