Testifying in front of the House Homeland Security Committee Tuesday morning, newly minted Homeland Security Secretary James Kelly defended President Trump's temporary ban on refugees and visa holders from seven terror ridden countries, but admitted the rollout of the executive order could have been more efficient.
"The desire was to get it out. The thinking was to get it out quick so that potentially people coming here to harm us could not take advantage of some period of time that they could jump on an airplane and get here, or get here in other ways," Kelly said. "In retrospect, I should have, this is all on me by the way, I should have delayed it just a bit so that I could talk to members of Congress, particularly the leadership of committees like this to prepare them for what was coming although I think most people would agree that this has been a topic of President Trump's, certainly during the campaign and during the transition."
"As the great men and women, particularly the border protection people, as they unfolded that and started to implement it I should say, they came back to us with some suggestions about how we could alter it," Kelly continued. "We did have to step back a re-cock that first 24-hour period...Going forward I would have certainly taken some time to inform the Congress and certainly that's something all of use will be doing in the future."
In the initial hours of the implementation, green card holders and legal U.S. residents were denied entry into the country and were held at airports. According to Kelly, that problem was remedied six hours after it went into effect Friday evening. He also denied reports of inhumane treatment of those detained.
"Everyone was treated humanely. I've read the reports about people standing up for hours on end, didn't happen," he said.
Kelly said the executive order was in development before he was sworn into office after President Trump's inauguration on January 20. Contrary to reports he was blindsided by the executive order, Kelly testified he was aware of the order's announcement and implementation schedule ahead of time.