WASHINGTON (AP) — Legal permanent U.S. residents from seven countries whose citizens are covered by a three-month American travel ban won't need special permission to come back to the United States after all, the Trump administration announced Wednesday.
White House spokesman Sean Spicer said green card holders will now be allowed to enter and leave the United States as they please, despite the ban. Spicer's announcement was the latest effort to clarify and adjust President Donald Trump's executive order banning travel and immigration from seven majority-Muslim countries.
The order, signed Friday, has caused drawn international criticism and spawned widespread panic among travelers and apparent confusion within the government about how the order should be implemented.
In the earliest hours of the travel ban, green card holders were blocked from getting on planes overseas or detained upon their arrival. Also blocked were some Iraqi nationals with special visas issued to people who helped U.S. troops fighting in that country.
As of Tuesday more than 1,000 green card holders had been let in under a special waiver, acting Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin McAleenan said.
Spicer said Wednesday that for "the sake of efficiency," green card holders "no longer need a waiver."
The executive order also included a four-month halt to the U.S. refugee program and an indefinite ban on U.S. travel for all Syrians.
The muddled rollout also prompted concern among Democratic lawmakers, who asked the Homeland Security Department's inspector general to investigate.
Inspector General John Roth notified Sen. Dick Durbin Wednesday that a probe of the order's implementation has started.
The internal investigation was first reported by the online publication The Intercept.
Associated Press reporter Erica Werner contributed to this report.
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