Timeline of Turmoil: The Rollout of Trump's Immigration Order

Why Trump's immigration executive order caused confusion and frustration.

January 31, 2017, 5:57 PM

— -- The weekend after Donald Trump rolled out his controversial executive order on immigration, a chaotic scene ensued in airports across the country.

A chorus of dissenters protested, while confused customs agents asked for clarity on how to proceed.

Civil rights attorneys filed legal challenges, and a federal judge in Brooklyn blocked deportations.

Soon, it emerged that some key members of Trump's own administration, as well as congressional leadership, had not been fully in the loop -- if at all -- on the scope and language of the action taken Friday afternoon.

"The rollout was confusing," House Speaker Paul Ryan admitted at a press conference this morning. "But on a go-forward basis I’m confident that Homeland Security Secretary Kelly is going to make sure this is done correctly, that they get a good review, and that we are going to make sure we get this program up and running with the kind of vetting standards we want to see."

Here's what we know about how the order was rolled out:

At 4:39 p.m. on Friday at the Pentagon, Trump appeared to take action on his 2016 campaign promise to impose tougher immigration laws, signing an executive order that promised to keep “radical Islamic terrorists out of the United States of America.”

“We don’t want them here,” Trump said, standing at a podium flanked by Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of Defense James Mattis. “We want to ensure that we are not admitting into our country the very threats our soldiers are fighting overseas.”

The order, named "Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States," took immediate effect to bar admission to the U.S. of all people with non-immigrant or immigrant visas from seven countries -- Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen -- for 90 days. It also bars entry to all refugees from anywhere in the world for 120 days, and places an indefinite ban on refugees from war-torn Syria.

Hours after Trump signed his order, the public had not yet seen documents that would describe exactly how airports and government officials around the world would implement the new rules. At 6:58 p.m., the order was distributed to the White House press list.

So began a weekend of confusion and chaos as families wondered whether or not they would be reunited with loved ones, politicians struggled to respond to constituent concerns and airports scrambled to accommodate the new policy as protesters shouted chants against Trump in luggage terminals from New York to San Francisco.

As Trump signed his name to set the order in motion, immigrants and refugees were still flying in the air, unaware of what they would find once their flights landed in the United States.

Two Iraqi visa holders, Hameed Khalid Darweesh and Haider Sameer Abdulkhaleq, landed at Kennedy International Airport in New York on Friday night and were immediately detained by Department of Homeland Security officials. Lawyers for the two men, caught in a communications limbo between the White House and Department of Homeland Security, filed a writ of habeas corpus against Trump in Brooklyn Federal Court.

At airports on Saturday, the sound of protesters chanting against what they called Trump’s “Muslim ban” swelled as Republican leaders in Congress remained largely silent. During the signing of another executive order in the Oval Office, Trump defended his position when pressed by reporters. “It’s not a Muslim ban,” the president said, adding that the government was prepared for its implementation, “totally, totally,” and that “in the airports it’s working out very nicely.”

In putting in place what was described as “extreme vetting,” the order left open questions about how green card holders would be affected. Legal permanent residents would need to have waivers issued on a case-by-case basis, and could risk being detained if they did not check in with consular officers prior to leaving the country. The State Department said those with dual nationality will not be permitted to enter the United States for 90 days, and visa interviews will not be granted.

On Saturday night, as questions swirled about the fate of travelers stuck in airports, Judge Ann Donnelly of Federal District Court in Brooklyn ruled that detained people could not be forced back to their original destinations, writing “there is imminent danger that, absent the stay of removal, there will be substantial and irreparable injury” for individuals subject to the order.

Attorneys flocked to major U.S. airports to provide pro bono legal assistance for refugees and visa-holders trying to navigate the new order.

On Sunday, Trump officials defended the bill, even as some Republican leaders began criticizing the order. Republican Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham called the executive order a “self-inflicted wound” that “may do more to help terrorist recruitment than improve our security."

Among those speaking out on the Democratic side was Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York who, his eyes welling with tears, demanded Trump rescind the “mean spirited and un-American” order.

Foreign leaders and CEOs also criticized the order.

The president issued a statement asserting that the order aims to keep the country safe. “To be clear, this is not a Muslim ban, as the media is falsely reporting. This is not about religion - this is about terror and keeping our country safe. There are over 40 different countries worldwide that are majority Muslim that are not affected by this order.”

But the order seemed to still be in flux on Sunday morning when White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus during an appearance on “Meet the Press” said that the order did not apply to green card holders.

Reporting revealed that some of Trump’s own cabinet members were largely left in the dark. Department of Homeland Security John Kelly was in an airplane discussing timing for the order as Trump announced his plans on national television.

On Tuesday, Kelly pushed back on those reports during his first press conference. “We knew it was coming. It wasn’t a surprise," he said, adding that adjustments were made up to the last minute.

Secretary of Defense Mattis, who had stood next to Trump at the signing, had no input on the document. And a U.S. official said that acting Secretary of State Tom Shannon was "aware of" and "tracking" the executive order, but would not say when he actually saw the final version of the order or was able to offer his opinion.

Trump on Monday morning offered reasoning for why government officials weren't fully informed about the order's rollout. “If the ban were announced with a one-week notice, the "bad" would rush into our country during that week. A lot of bad "dudes" out there!” Trump tweeted.

But for some families from affected countries, the order has a serious cost.

Azzam Elias, a Syrian refugee who came to the United States in 1978, said one of his daughters is stuck in Lebanon. “I am a good citizen," Elias said. "I have my own business and own house and not my own children with me. It's hard to see people being killed right and left, and I can't save my own children.”

ABC News' Matt Claiborne, Aaron Katersky, Ben Siegel, Arlette Saenz and Justin Fishel contributed to this report.

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