Homeland security chief takes responsibility for quick rollout of immigration order

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WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 31: Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly answers questions during a press conference related to President Donald Trump's recent executive order concerning travel and refugees, January 31, 2017 in Washington, DC. On Monday night, President Donald Trump fired the acting Attorney General Sally Yates after she released a statement saying the Justice Department would not enforce the president's executive order that places a temporary ban on citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON — Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly took responsibility on Tuesday for the quick rollout of President Donald Trump’s controversial travel ban executive order, saying he wished he had delayed enacting it.

Kelly was testifying before Congress for the first time since being sworn in, speaking at a border security hearing held by the House Homeland Security Committee.

Chairman Mike McCaul, a Texas Republican, told Kelly he was unhappy with some aspects of the implementation of the order, including the lack of consultation with members of Congress and reports that it was not thoroughly put through the agencies involved in putting it in place.

Kelly said he knew the order would be coming out the Friday it was signed and released late in the evening, and that he and his team had a chance to make changes the week before.

“In retrospect, I should have — this is all on me by the way — I should have delayed it just a bit so I could have talked to members of Congress,” Kelly said.

The secretary has defended the ban despite reports that his awareness of the content was limited and that career staff at the department and others did not have opportunities to fully review the order.

“The desire was to get it out, the thinking was to get it out to quick so potentially the people were coming to harm us could not take advantage,” Kelly said, echoing the Trump administration’s claims that if the order was announced in advance, “bad” people could have rushed into the country.

A federal district court in Washington has blocked the order from going into effect nationwide while it works its way through the courts, and several other district courts blocked aspects of it in their jurisdiction.

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