Defense Secretary Jim Mattis Requesting Exemptions From Travel Ban For Certain Iraqis

Marine Corps Gen. James Mattis arrives on Capitol Hill in Washington Tuesday, July 27, 2010, to testify before the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on his nomination to be commander of the U.S. Central Command. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

One of President Trump’s top picks is chiming in on the kerfuffle over his hastily signed executive order, banning entry of immigrants from 7 Muslim nations.

According to the Washington Examiner, a Pentagon official is saying Defense Secretary Jim Mattis is requesting an exemption from the 90-day immigration ban for certain Iraqi immigrants.

The categories would include interpreters who risked their lives alongside U.S. troops in Iraq, as well as Iraqi pilots who have been traveling to the United States to learn to fly F-16s.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the list of categories has not been finalized, said the exemption would not require any changes to the president’s memo ordering a travel ban from seven majority-Muslim countries, but rather would be in the form of implementing guidance to the Department of Homeland Security and the Transportation Security Administration.

Pentagon spokesman, Capt. Jeff Davis has said that the White House has given them an opportunity to make suggestions as to which Iraqis should possibly get exemption.

A number of lawmakers have spoken out about the implementation of the order and the chaos that ensued, afterwards.

Rep. Seth Moulton, a former Marine officer who worked to get his interpreter asylum in the U.S., lashed out in an appearance on ABC on Sunday.

“You know, I worked for Gen. Mattis. I know him. There is no way in hell that he is supportive of this. He relied on translators for his life, just like I did,” Moulton said.

A federal judge’s order put a hold on certain provisions of the order, allowing for detained immigrants in airports around the nation to be released, but some were already put on planes and sent back before the stay was granted.

Hameed Khalid Darweesh was one of the first to be detained. He worked as an interpreter for the U.S. military for 10 years. He was allowed entry by Saturday evening, along with a second man, and reports are that they both intend to sue.