Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly told a congressional panel on Tuesday that he expects a wall on the U.S. -Mexico border to be "well under way" within the next two years.
"In their world it is very academic, nearly in a vacuum".
The new Homeland Security chief getting a lot of questions at a House hearing about the President's immigration limits.
"Of course, in their courtrooms, they're protected by people like me, " he said.
Kelly also cast the Trump directive as a mere "pause" that would allow USA officials to assess vetting procedures, and he said they were not contemplating expanding it beyond the seven affected countries: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. Trump has repeatedly tweeted that a court order temporarily blocking the ban is leading to "people pouring in".
He did, however, argue that the order, which blocks travelers from seven Muslim-majority nations from entering the country, "will prevail [in court] and be able to take the steps necessary to protect our nation".
Kelly's moment of falling on his sword was the most high-profile admission that the executive order, now the subject of federal litigation, wasn't handled correctly from the start. It affects citizens of Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen.
"The ban was based on countries that we don't have any real confidence in right now that they can help us vet people coming to the United States", he said.
But he added that the government is particularly anxious about the threat that fighters for the Islamic State group in Syria and Iraq could find their way to the United States.
Kelly said that he was not criticizing any judge but that their considerations were "academic" and possibly in a "vacuum".
Contrary to reports he was blindsided by the executive order, Kelly testified he was aware of the order's announcement and implementation schedule ahead of time.
Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly told lawmakers on Tuesday that federal grants given to "sanctuary cities" such as the Big Apple for their police departments would be suspended on a case-by-case basis.
The 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco will hear arguments over whether to restore the ban from Justice Department lawyers and opposing attorneys for the states of Minnesota and Washington at 3pm Pacific time.
"I am committed to executing President Trump's plan to secure our southern border with effective physical barriers, advanced technology, and strategic deployment of law enforcement personnel", he said.