Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly said judges who have ruled against President Donald Trump’s executive order suspending immigration of nationals from some Muslim-majority nations are "dead wrong" to call the directive a "Muslim ban."
The issue is that there is "very little ability" to verify and vet the people coming from the countries listed in Trump’s directive, Kelly said, adding that most of the countries have no passports, no police and no intelligence on its people.
"Many of the countries in question don't even have a U.S. embassy there to help us vet," Kelly told Fox News’ Chris Wallace on May 28.
Trump’s revised, March 6 order — currently blocked by courts — aimed to temporarily suspend entry of nationals from Iran, Libya, Syria, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen.
Is it true that there is no U.S. embassy in many of those countries? Information from the State Department shows there isn’t an embassy in at least four of those six.
David Lapan, spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security, referred us to information posted on the State Department’s website regarding countries with limited or no U.S. visa services. U.S. embassies and consulates sometimes limit or suspend their visa services for reasons that include natural disasters, civil unrest, war and security concerns, the State Department said.
The State Department website said the United States does not have diplomatic relationships with Iran, therefore no U.S. embassy or consulate in that country. Other countries listed as having no diplomatic relationship were Bhutan and North Korea.
The State Department’s website said that on July 26, 2014, the U.S. embassy in Tripoli, Libya, "went on ordered departure and staff temporarily departed due to the ongoing fighting around our embassy and the serious risks faced by our diplomatic personnel."
The ambassador to Libya and a core group of personnel work from the U.S. embassy in Tunis, Tunisia.
Since visa services are unavailable in Libya, the State Department designated the U.S. Consulate General in Casablanca, Morocco, "as the processing post" for visa applications from Libyan immigrants.
The U.S. embassy in Damascus, Syria, suspended its operations in February 2012. U.S. citizens in need of emergency assistance are to contact the embassy of the Czech Republic in Damascus, which acts as a protecting power for U.S. citizens.
U.S. passports or visas are not issued in Syria.
The United States does not have an embassy or diplomatic presence in Somalia. It has a mission to Somalia that operates out of Nairobi, Kenya.
The United States does have an embassy in Khartoum, Sudan.
It also has an embassy in Sana’a, Yemen, but out of political and security concerns has reduced its staffing to "minimal levels." The embassy has also suspended its consular services, the State Department said. The U.S. embassy in Cairo, Egypt processes visas for Yemeni citizens.
Trump’s first executive order included Iraq, but the country was left out in the revised order. The United States does have an embassy in Iraq’s capital, Baghdad.
Having an embassy helps in the vetting process because that's where the State Department can do most of its questioning, said Bill Hing, an immigration expert and law professor at the University of San Francisco School of Law.
Though refugees from areas of conflict are also often vetted at U.S. embassies in other countries, Hing said.
Kelly said, "Many of the countries in question (in Trump’s travel ban) don't even have a U.S. embassy there to help us vet."
Trump’s revised executive order aimed to temporarily suspend entry of nationals from Iran, Libya, Syria, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen. The United States does not have an embassy in at least four of those six countries.
We rate Kelly’s statement True.