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Entry of lawful permanent residents in "national interest," DHS secretary says

NEW YORK -- Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly released a statement on Sunday regarding the entry of lawful permanent residents into the U.S.

“In applying the provisions of the president’s executive order, I hereby deem the entry of lawful permanent residents to be in the national interest,” said the statement, released two days after President Trump signed an executive order banning people from seven countries from entering the U.S. and making other changes to America’s immigration and refugee policies.

“Accordingly, absent the receipt of significant derogatory information indicating a serious threat to public safety and welfare, lawful permanent resident status will be a dispositive factor in our case-by-case determinations,” it said.

The chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, which provides Congressional oversight for the DHS, also released a statement on Sunday.

“We should not simply turn away individuals who already have lawful U.S. visas or green cards-like those who have risked their lives serving alongside our forces overseas or who call America their home,” the statement by committee Chairman Michael McCaul said. “We must be focused instead on putting in place tougher screening measures to weed out terror suspects while facilitating the entry of peaceful, freedom-loving people of all religions who see the United States as a beacon of hope.”

It also said that “in light of the confusion and uncertainty” after the president’s executive order, “it is clear adjustments are needed.”

“In the future, such policy changes should be better coordinated with the agencies implementing them and with Congress to ensure we get it right-and don’t undermine our nation’s credibility while trying to restore it,” the statement said.

 The statement additionally called it “deeply irresponsible” to characterize the executive order as a “Muslim ban,” saying “it is not.”

“The order puts a pause on refugee admissions and temporarily halts immigration from seven countries, each of which was already designated by the Obama Administration as an area of terror concern,” it said. “The U.S. government has paused immigration from specific countries in the past in order to implement additional measures to prevent terrorist infiltration of our homeland.”

Earlier on Sunday, the DHS released  another statement. It said a New York court order temporarily barring the U.S. from deporting people from nations subject to President Trump’s travel ban will not affect the overall implementation of the order.

“President Trump’s Executive Orders remain in place - prohibited travel will remain prohibited, and the U.S. government retains its right to revoke visas at any time if required for national security or public safety,” the statement said.