In an interview with TMZ, President Donald Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway said the president's controversial travel ban was partly inspired by the policies of former President Barack Obama (video below).
Asked about the executive order, which prohibits citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the U.S. for 120 days, Conway said its main purpose is to protect the American people from terrorism.
"If people have a reason to be here then they'll be here," she said. "This is meant to protect our borders and protect us from terrorism."
She went on to indicate that the seven countries included on Trump's list were first singled out by the Obama administration.
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"The fact is that it was President Obama and the Congress who identified these seven countries," she said, adding that "President Obama suspended the Iraq refugee program for six months in 2011."
"This is what presidents do when they're trying to protect their country," she continued. "President Obama did it and now President Trump is doing it."
Conway is referring to a law signed by Obama in 2015 that imposed limited restrictions on people who had traveled to Iran, Iraq, Sudan or Syria after March 1, 2011, according to WGN-TV. Three more countries -- Libya, Somalia and Yemen -- were added to the list in 2016 with the stated aim of combating "the growing threat from foreign terrorist fighters."
The law required people who had visited any of the seven "countries of concern" to apply for a visa before traveling to the U.S., whereas before they could have taken advantage of the Visa Waiver program, allowing them to stay in the U.S. for up to 90 days without a visa.
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Under Trump's executive order, all citizens from those seven countries are barred from entering the U.S.
While green card holders were among those detained at airports over the weekend, the Trump administration has clarified that the travel ban does not apply to them, according to CNN. They can, however, be expected to undergo additional security screening when returning to the U.S.
"As far as green card holders moving forward, [the ban] doesn't affect them," Chief of Staff Reince Priebus told NBC News, according to CNN.
"If you're traveling back and forth you're going to be subjected to further screening," he added.