The White House said Monday that officials moved the way they did on the “extreme vetting” immigration executive order because of security purposes, that everything is now “flowing perfectly” and that only a small percentage of travelers were affected.
“When we look at it in context — and that’s important — 325,000 people in the first 24 hours flew into this country to airports from foreign countries. A hundred and nine people were affected. They were slowed down in their travel,” White House press secretary Sean Spicer said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”
“And I understand that’s an inconvenience, but at the end of the day, that’s a small price to pay as opposed to somebody losing their life because a terrorist attack was committed,” he said.
Mr. Spicer said the appropriate people at the relevant agencies were informed.
“If we had sent this down to every low-level individual, more people would have flooded into the country in a short amount of time to take advantage before the ban went into effect,” he said.
“I think that what happened is initially because of the way that we had to roll this out for security purposes to protect our own country and our people, we did it in a way … but it happened, and it was over and right now everything’s flowing perfectly,” Mr. Spicer said.
“You could have telegraphed to everybody what was going to go on, and that would have posed significant security threats,” he said.
The Trump administration’s executive order limiting travel from seven countries with a history of terrorism prompted confusion and protests at airports across the country over the weekend.
On Saturday, a federal judge ordered that valid visa holders from the seven countries — Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia, and Yemen — should not be deported under the order.
The Department of Homeland Security also said Sunday that green card holders, or lawful permanent residents, would be admitted to the U.S.
“I think we can figure out how to inform people quicker and more comprehensively once the decision’s been made, but at the time, we made the best decision [that] was in the best interest of securing this country and our people, and we’re going to continue to make sure that that’s always going to be the priority,” Mr. Spicer said.
“Now, how we inform them, as quick as we can to the highest and lowest levels, sure, we can constantly be working on that,” he said.