'It's not a Muslim ban': Trump defends controversial executive order on refugees

President Donald Trump on Saturday defended his executive order barring travelers from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the US.

"It's not a Muslim ban," Trump told reporters in the Oval Office as he signed several executive orders.

"It's working out very nicely. You see it at the airports, you see it all over," he added.

Trump's order halted refugee arrivals into the United States for 120 days, and it barred citizens of Iraq, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia, and Yemen for 90 days.

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35 PHOTOS
Protests to Donald Trump's refugee ban
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Protests to Donald Trump's refugee ban
NEW YORK, UNITED STATES - JANUARY 28: Immigration activists stage a protest against President Donald Trump's 90-days ban of entry on 7 Muslim-majority countries in JFK airport in New York, U.S.A on January 28, 2017. (Photo by Mohammed Elshamy/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Protestors rally during a demonstration against the Muslim immigration ban at John F. Kennedy International Airport on January 28, 2017 in New York City. President Trump signed the controversial executive order that halted refugees and residents from predominantly Muslim countries from entering the United States. (Photo by Zach D Roberts/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, UNITED STATES - JANUARY 28: Activists stage a rally against President Donald Trump's 90-days ban of entry on 7 Muslim-majority countries in the Fourth terminal of JFK airport in New York, U.S.A on January 28, 2017. (Photo by Mohammed Elshamy/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Protestors rally during a demonstration against the Muslim immigration ban at John F. Kennedy International Airport on January 28, 2017 in New York City. President Trump signed the controversial executive order that halted refugees and residents from predominantly Muslim countries from entering the United States. (Photo by Zach D Roberts/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, UNITED STATES - JANUARY 28: Immigration activists stage a protest against President Donald Trump's 90-days ban of entry on 7 Muslim-majority countries in JFK airport in New York, U.S.A on January 28, 2017. (Photo by Mohammed Elshamy/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 28: Protestors rally during a demonstration against the new immigration ban issued by President Donald Trump at John F. Kennedy International Airport on January 28, 2017 in New York City. President Trump signed the controversial executive order that halted refugees and residents from predominantly Muslim countries from entering the United States. (Photo by Stephanie Keith/Getty Images)
Protesters gather at JFK International Airport against Donald Trump's executive order on January 28, 2017 in New York. US President Donald Trump has signed a sweeping executive order to suspend refugee arrivals and impose tough controls on travellers from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. Trump boasted Saturday that his 'very strict' crackdown on Muslim immigration was working 'very nicely,' amid mounting resistance to the order which has been branded by many as blatantly discriminatory. / AFP / Bryan R. Smith (Photo credit should read BRYAN R. SMITH/AFP/Getty Images)
Protesters gather at JFK International Airport against Donald Trump's executive order on January 28, 2017 in New York. US President Donald Trump has signed a sweeping executive order to suspend refugee arrivals and impose tough controls on travellers from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. Trump boasted Saturday that his 'very strict' crackdown on Muslim immigration was working 'very nicely,' amid mounting resistance to the order which has been branded by many as blatantly discriminatory. / AFP / Bryan R. Smith (Photo credit should read BRYAN R. SMITH/AFP/Getty Images)
New York City Council Member Carlos Menchaca addresses a crowd during an anti-Donald Trump immigration ban protest outside Terminal 4 at John F. Kennedy International Airport in Queens, New York, U.S. January 28, 2017. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly
A crowd gathers during an anti-Donald Trump immigration ban protest outside Terminal 4 at John F. Kennedy International Airport in Queens, New York, U.S. January 28, 2017. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly
People gather during an anti-Donald Trump immigration ban protest outside Terminal 4 at John F. Kennedy International Airport in Queens, New York, U.S. January 28, 2017. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly
Protesters gather at JFK International Airport's Terminal 4 to demonstrate against US President Donald Trump's executive order on January 28, 2017, in New York. Trump has signed a sweeping executive order to suspend refugee arrivals and impose tough controls on travellers from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. / AFP / Bryan R. Smith (Photo credit should read BRYAN R. SMITH/AFP/Getty Images)
Protesters gather at JFK International Airport's Terminal 4 to demonstrate against President Donald Trump's executive order on January 28, 2017, in New York. Trump has signed a sweeping executive order to suspend refugee arrivals and impose tough controls on travellers from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. / AFP / Bryan R. Smith (Photo credit should read BRYAN R. SMITH/AFP/Getty Images)
Protesters gather at JFK International Airport's Terminal 4 to demonstrate against US President Donald Trump's executive order on January 28, 2017, in New York. Trump has signed a sweeping executive order to suspend refugee arrivals and impose tough controls on travellers from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. / AFP / Bryan R. Smith (Photo credit should read BRYAN R. SMITH/AFP/Getty Images)
Protesters gather at JFK International Airport's Terminal 4 to demonstrate against President Donald Trump's executive order on January 28, 2017, in New York. Trump has signed a sweeping executive order to suspend refugee arrivals and impose tough controls on travellers from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. / AFP / Bryan R. Smith (Photo credit should read BRYAN R. SMITH/AFP/Getty Images)
Protesters gather at JFK International Airport's Terminal 4 to demonstrate against President Donald Trump's executive order on January 28, 2017, in New York. Trump has signed a sweeping executive order to suspend refugee arrivals and impose tough controls on travellers from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. / AFP / Bryan R. Smith (Photo credit should read BRYAN R. SMITH/AFP/Getty Images)
Protesters gather at JFK International Airport's Terminal 4 to demonstrate against President Donald Trump's executive order on January 28, 2017, in New York. Trump has signed a sweeping executive order to suspend refugee arrivals and impose tough controls on travellers from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. / AFP / Bryan R. Smith (Photo credit should read BRYAN R. SMITH/AFP/Getty Images)
Demonstrators hang a banner from a multi-level car park during a protest against Donald Trump's travel ban outside Terminal 4 at John F. Kennedy International Airport in Queens, New York, U.S., January 28, 2017. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly
People participate in a protest against Donald Trump's travel ban outside Terminal 4 at John F. Kennedy International Airport in Queens, New York, U.S., January 28, 2017. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly
NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 28: Protestors rally during a demonstration against the Muslim immigration ban at John F. Kennedy International Airport on January 28, 2017 in New York City. President Trump signed the controversial executive order that halted refugees and residents from predominantly Muslim countries from entering the United States. (Photo by Stephanie Keith/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 28: Protestors rally during a demonstration against the Muslim immigration ban at John F. Kennedy International Airport on January 28, 2017 in New York City. President Trump signed the controversial executive order that halted refugees and residents from predominantly Muslim countries from entering the United States. (Photo by Stephanie Keith/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - JANUARY 28: Hundreds of people gathered for a rally at the Chinatown Gate in Boston and marched to the State House in a demonstration against President Trump's new immigration order the day after it was issued, Jan. 28, 2017. (Photo by John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - JANUARY 28: Tori Furtado, from Boston, kneels down to write a sign that reads, 'Love has no borders,' in front of the Chinatown Gate, where hundreds gathered for a rally before marching to the State House in a demonstration against President Trump's new immigration order the day after it was issued, Jan. 28, 2017. (Photo by John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - JANUARY 28: Hundreds of people gathered for a rally at the Chinatown Gate in Boston and marched to the State House in a demonstration against President Trump's new immigration order the day after it was issued, Jan. 28, 2017. (Photo by John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - JANUARY 28: Hundreds of people marched down Kneeland Street in Boston after gathering for a rally at the Chinatown Gate in Boston before walking to the State House in a demonstration against President Trump's new immigration order the day after it was issued, Jan. 28, 2017. (Photo by John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
NEW YORK - JANUARY 28: Nydia Velazquez seen as protesters gather in a demonstration against President Trumps executive order barring immigrants and refugees from certain predominantly Muslim countries outside JFK airport terminal 4 on January 28, 2017 in New York City. PHOTOGRAPH BY Joel Sheakoski / Barcroft Images London-T:+44 207 033 1031 E:hello@barcroftmedia.com - New York-T:+1 212 796 2458 E:hello@barcroftusa.com - New Delhi-T:+91 11 4053 2429 E:hello@barcroftindia.com www.barcroftimages.com (Photo credit should read Joel Sheakoski / Barcroft Images / Barcroft Media via Getty Images)
NEW YORK - JANUARY 28: Protesters gather in a demonstration against President Trumps executive order barring immigrants and refugees from certain predominantly Muslim countries outside JFK airport terminal 4 on January 28, 2017 in New York City. PHOTOGRAPH BY Joel Sheakoski / Barcroft Images London-T:+44 207 033 1031 E:hello@barcroftmedia.com - New York-T:+1 212 796 2458 E:hello@barcroftusa.com - New Delhi-T:+91 11 4053 2429 E:hello@barcroftindia.com www.barcroftimages.com (Photo credit should read Joel Sheakoski / Barcroft Images / Barcroft Media via Getty Images)
NEW YORK - JANUARY 28: Protesters gather in a demonstration against President Trumps executive order barring immigrants and refugees from certain predominantly Muslim countries outside JFK airport terminal 4 on January 28, 2017 in New York City. PHOTOGRAPH BY Joel Sheakoski / Barcroft Images London-T:+44 207 033 1031 E:hello@barcroftmedia.com - New York-T:+1 212 796 2458 E:hello@barcroftusa.com - New Delhi-T:+91 11 4053 2429 E:hello@barcroftindia.com www.barcroftimages.com (Photo credit should read Joel Sheakoski / Barcroft Images / Barcroft Media via Getty Images)
NEW YORK - JANUARY 28: Protesters gather in a demonstration against President Trumps executive order barring immigrants and refugees from certain predominantly Muslim countries outside JFK airport terminal 4 on January 28, 2017 in New York City. PHOTOGRAPH BY Joel Sheakoski / Barcroft Images London-T:+44 207 033 1031 E:hello@barcroftmedia.com - New York-T:+1 212 796 2458 E:hello@barcroftusa.com - New Delhi-T:+91 11 4053 2429 E:hello@barcroftindia.com www.barcroftimages.com (Photo credit should read Joel Sheakoski / Barcroft Images / Barcroft Media via Getty Images)
Protesters gather at JFK International Airport's Terminal 4 to demonstrate against President Donald Trump's executive order on January 28, 2017, in New York. Trump has signed a sweeping executive order to suspend refugee arrivals and impose tough controls on travellers from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. / AFP / Bryan R. Smith (Photo credit should read BRYAN R. SMITH/AFP/Getty Images)
Protesters gather outside Terminal 4 at JFK airport in opposition to U.S. president Donald Trump's proposed ban on immigration in Queens, New York City, U.S., January 28, 2017. REUTERS/Stephen Yang
Port Authority Police Department block an entrance as protesters gather outside Terminal 4 at JFK airport in opposition to U.S. president Donald Trump's proposed ban on immigration in Queens, New York City, U.S., January 28, 2017. REUTERS/Stephen Yang
Protesters gather outside Terminal 4 at JFK airport in opposition to U.S. president Donald Trump's proposed ban on immigration in Queens, New York City, U.S., January 28, 2017. REUTERS/Stephen Yang
NEW YORK, UNITED STATES - JANUARY 28: Immigration activists stage a protest against President Donald Trump's 90-days ban of entry on 7 Muslim-majority countries in JFK airport in New York, U.S.A on January 28, 2017. (Photo by Mohammed Elshamy/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
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The order caused chaos and confusion at airports across the country on Saturday, as refugees and even permanent residents of the United States were detained by border agents.

A White House official told reporters that individuals from the seven countries who hold US green cards will be cleared to enter the US on a case-by-case basis, and must check with a US consulate to find out if they can return.

The official rebuked the notion that Trump's order amounted to a Muslim ban, noting that several predominantly Muslim countries are not listed in the order. The official said the amount of people affected by the action is "relatively small."

"It's important to keep in mind that no person living or residing overseas has a right to entry to the US," the official said.

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14 PHOTOS
Scenes from US airports after Trump's travel restriction
See Gallery
Scenes from US airports after Trump's travel restriction
Hossein Khoshbakhty wipes tears from his eyes while speaking during an interview about his Iranian brother, a U.S. Green Card holder effected by the travel ban at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) in Los Angeles, California, U.S., January 28, 2017. REUTERS/Patrick T. Fallon
Homa Homaei, a U.S. Citizen from Iran, is embraced by a lawyer working to help her Iranian family members effected by the travel ban at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) in Los Angeles, California, U.S., January 28, 2017. REUTERS/Patrick T. Fallon
Port Authority Police Department block an entrance as protesters gather outside Terminal 4 at JFK airport in opposition to U.S. president Donald Trump's proposed ban on immigration in Queens, New York City, U.S., January 28, 2017. REUTERS/Stephen Yang
Attorney Talia Inlender, (C), works on paperwork with lawyers for family members of passengers effected by the travel ban outside of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection office at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) in Los Angeles, California, U.S., January 28, 2017. REUTERS/Patrick T. Fallon
Lawyers work on paperwork to help family members of passengers effected by the travel ban outside of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection office at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) in Los Angeles, California, U.S., January 28, 2017. REUTERS/Patrick T. Fallon
Demonstrators gather outside of John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) airport to protest U.S. President Donald Trump's executive order blocking visitors from seven predominantly Muslim nations in New York, U.S., on Saturday, Jan. 28, 2017. Friday's executive order suspending refugee resettlements and barring entry to people from seven Middle East nations, is 'not a Muslim ban,' President Trump said. Photographer: Michael Nagle/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Lawyers work on paperwork for family members of passengers effected by the travel ban outside of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection office at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) in Los Angeles, California, U.S., January 28, 2017. REUTERS/Patrick T. Fallon
Sarah Saedian speaks with an attorney about her Iranian relatives as lawyers work to help family members of passengers effected by the travel ban at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) in Los Angeles, California, U.S., January 28, 2017. REUTERS/Patrick T. Fallon
Hossein Khoshbakhty speaks during an interview about his Iranian brother, a U.S. Green Card holder effected by the travel ban at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) in Los Angeles, California, U.S., January 28, 2017. REUTERS/Patrick T. Fallon
Hossein Khoshbakhty, (L), speaks with attorney Talia Inlender about his Iranian family members effected by the travel ban as Homa Homaei, (2nd L), looks on outside the U.S. Customs and Border Protection office at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) in Los Angeles, California, U.S., January 28, 2017. REUTERS/Patrick T. Fallon
Sarah Saedian holds a bouquet of roses as she speaks with attorneys about her Iranian relatives working to help her family members effected by the travel ban at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) in Los Angeles, California, U.S., January 28, 2017. REUTERS/Patrick T. Fallon
Hossein Khoshbakhty speaks during an interview about his Iranian brother, a U.S. Green Card holder effected by the travel ban at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) in Los Angeles, California, U.S., January 28, 2017. REUTERS/Patrick T. Fallon
Attorney Talia Inlender, (R), speaks with Hossein Khoshbakhty, (L), and Homa Homaei, family members of Iranian passengers effected by the travel ban at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) in Los Angeles, California, U.S., January 28, 2017. REUTERS/Patrick T. Fallon
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Lawyers have already filed legal challenges to Trump's order, arguing it is "unconstitutional" and "a violation of international law."

Protests over the order erupted at John F. Kennedy airport on Saturday, after two Iraqi refugees who had been granted asylum and were carrying valid visas were detained by border agents and denied entry.

One of the Iraqis, Hameed Khalid Darweesh, was released Saturday afternoon after two New York lawmakers arrived at the airport and demanded to see him.

Hundreds of protesters descended on the airport's Terminal 4, wielding signs that read, "No ban, no wall," and, "Refugees welcome," local media reported.

SEE ALSO: Legal challenges are already being presented to Donald Trump's ban on Muslim asylum-seekers
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