01:27 - Source: CNN
Kelly: Ninth Circuit ruling 'big win' for DHS

Story highlights

The court kept in place a block on Trump's travel ban taking effect

But the ruling said some vetting reviews could take place

Washington CNN  — 

A federal appeals court’s decision keeping in place a block on the Trump administration’s travel ban was actually a “big win” for the administration because it means they could soon go ahead with reviewing vetting procedures, Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly told CNN in an exclusive interview this week.

The 9th Circuit on Monday ruled that the prohibition on the travel ban – temporarily blocking all refugees and foreign nationals from six Muslim-majority countries from entering the US – would stay in effect, dealing another blow to the Trump administration in its repeated efforts to put such a ban in place.

But the court also ruled that agencies could begin a review of vetting procedures from those countries, the original goal of the temporary ban, even as the courts continue to rule on the ban itself. The government has asked the court to make the ruling take effect immediately with a mandate, which would allow that part of the executive order to proceed.

Administration lawyers are still reviewing the court’s decision, Kelly said, but he called it a “big win.”

“If my lawyers knock on the door, tap on the door and say, ‘We got it boss. We won on this one,’ and that we can start doing what we started to months ago, then we’re off to the races,” Kelly said. “So I think, if it’s true and I’m allowed to do it, this is a good thing for security of the United States.”

Trump’s original travel ban and subsequent version that responded to court concerns envisioned the controversial ban on certain nationals entering the US as a temporary effort to allow DHS and other agencies to review the vetting procedures for would-be travelers from that country.

DHS has been questioned by lawmakers, the courts and the media repeatedly as to why those reviews haven’t taken place in the time the ban has been held up by the courts, which has been longer than originally envisioned by the executive order. Kelly and staff have said they believed those efforts were also blocked by the courts, which drew skepticism from lawmakers and federal judges.

Kelly told CNN that it was up to the courts to figure out the fate of the ban, but it would be a significant boon to be able to proceed with the review.

“This is a win for the Trump administration,” Kelly said. “Our ability now to do what we should have been able to do from Day 1, and that is to look at the conditions in every country on the planet, so to speak, and decide which ones is the procedure by which they come to the United States, either as tourists or students as refugees, which ones are where we want to be in terms of determining, A, who they are, and B, why they’re coming to our country. “

CNN’s Laura Jarrett and Ariane de Vogue contributed to this report.