The U.S. State Department said fewer than 60,000 visas have been provisionally canceled as a result of President Donald Trump's executive order banning travel from seven countries.
The number conflicts with one released earlier by Department of Justice lawyers, who said more than 100,000 visas had been revoked after the people they were issued to were blocked from traveling to the U.S.
The State Department said the higher figure included diplomatic and other visas that were exempted from the ban.
The executive order bans visa holders from Iran, Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Somalia, Libya and Yemen. Trump says the measure is necessary to protect American people from terrorists.
The 100,000 number was revealed during a federal court hearing Friday in Alexandria, Virginia, in a case brought by two Yemeni brothers who arrived at nearby Dulles International Airport last Saturday. The brothers say they were forced to give up their legal resident visas and return to Ethiopia.
During the course of the proceeding, the Justice lawyers said they did not know how many people had been sent home as a result of the ban but that green-card holders had been allowed entry to the U.S.
Judge Leonie Brinkema commended the government for trying to bring Tareq and Ammar Aqel Mohammed Aziz back to the U.S. She also encouraged the government to consider how it might resolve such cases more broadly.
"I have been on this bench a long time. ... I have never seen such a public outpouring before," she said.
Brinkema added that this order "touched something" in people like she had never seen before. She previously presided over the case of 9/11 conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui, another case that sparked considerable interest.
Brinkema extended her stay on deportations for another week, having also agreed to hear a suit brought by the state of Virginia that questions the constitutionality of the travel ban.
Thursday, a federal judge in Brooklyn, New York, put a stay on deportations until February 21. Numerous other cases around the country are contesting the legality of the travel order.
Source: Voice of America