After calling for an investigation into President Donald Trump’s executive order on immigration, Sens. Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth announced Thursday that an independent probe has been launched.
The Department of Homeland Security’s independent Office of the Inspector General has launched a formal investigation into the implementation and legality of Trump’s travel ban. The order halts refugee resettlement into the U.S. for 120 days and suspends entry of immigrants from Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia, and Yemen - all Muslim-majority nations - for 90 days.
The measure’s implementation, which has led to hundreds of detainments, sparked widespread protests at airports across the country.
The DHS probe will investigate the “apparent indiscriminate detention" of legal U.S. residents and previously vetted travelers from the countries included in the ban, as well as whether U.S. law enforcement officers violated a federal court order by refusing to allow permanent legal residents being held at Dulles International Airport to access counsel.
“Though I’m encouraged by the DHS Inspector General’s decision to investigate the chaotic implementation of this un-American and unconstitutional executive order, I will continue to fight for it to be revoked,” Durbin said in a statement.
“We must remain vigilant to ensure that our fundamental Constitutional rights are protected, and our law enforcement agents must remain allies in that effort,” he added.
In their letter to DHS Inspector General John Roth, the senators pointed to the order's “chaotic execution,” pushing an investigation into how the DHS and the Custom and Border Protection prepared to implement the order and what guidance those agencies provided to the White House during its development.
Trump has defended the executive order as being narrowly focused, tweeting Monday that "only 109 out of 325,000" people were detained and held for questioning as a result of the ban. White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer echoed the president during an appearance Monday on MSNBC's "Morning Joe."
"Three hundred and twenty-five thousand people flew into this country from airports and 109 people were affected and slowed down in their travel," Spicer said. "I understand that it is an inconvenience but at the end of the day that is a small price to pay as opposed to somebody losing their life because a terrorist attack was admitted."
The Associated Press published a fact check Monday that found "nearly 400 green card holders actually were delayed after arriving at U.S. airports after the travel ban was signed."