Here’s How the Green Card Chaos Unfolded

Kevin Lamarque/Reuters via ZUMA

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Josh Rogin has a fascinating piece in the Washington Post today about the turmoil within the Trump administration over the immigration order issued last week. Much of this was due to the fact that no one outside the White House, including those who had to carry out the order, were part of the review process. The end result, apparently, was a temporary halt to executive orders “until a process was established that included the input of key officials outside the White House.”

But it’s worth putting this all in a timeline. Here it is, drawing from Rogin’s article and a CNN summary.

Friday afternoon: Trump signs immigration order

Saturday evening: As chaos ensues, “The man charged with implementing the order, Homeland Security Secretary John F. Kelly, had a plan. He would issue a waiver for [green-card holders] from the seven majority-Muslim countries whose citizens had been banned from entering the United States.”

Later Saturday evening: “White House chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon wanted to stop Kelly in his tracks. Bannon paid a personal and unscheduled visit to Kelly’s Department of Homeland Security office to deliver an order: Don’t issue the waiver. Kelly, according to two administration officials familiar with the confrontation, refused to comply with Bannon’s instruction…. Respectfully but firmly, the retired general and longtime Marine told Bannon that despite his high position in the White House and close relationship with Trump, the former Breitbart chief was not in Kelly’s chain of command.”

Later still on Saturday evening: “Trump didn’t call Kelly to tell him to hold off. Kelly issued the waiver late Saturday night.” But the waiver is not announced, and green card holders continue to be denied entry.

2 am Sunday morning: “A conference call of several top officials was convened to discuss the ongoing confusion over the executive order….On the call were Bannon, White House senior policy adviser Stephen Miller, White House Counsel Donald McGahn, national security adviser Michael Flynn, Kelly, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Secretary of State designee Rex Tillerson, who had not yet been confirmed.”

8 am Sunday morning: “In mere minutes during an interview with NBC, White House chief of staff Reince Priebus said the order ‘doesn’t affect’ green card holders, then later said ‘of course’ it affects green card holders from Iran, Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Libya, Yemen and Somalia — the seven countries Trump has temporarily stop immigration from for 90 days.”

6 pm Sunday evening: “Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly issued a statement clarifying their status saying ‘lawful permanent resident status will be a dispositive factor in our case-by-case determinations.’ Another Homeland Security official told CNN…’This is our message to them: get on a plane. Come back to the US. You will be subject to secondary screening, but everything else will be normal.’ “

Kelly is implicitly the hero of this story. And yet, he allowed the green card confusion to continue all day Sunday even though he had issued his waiver Saturday night. Some hero.

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DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily bluster—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

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