Donald Trump has said only 109 out of 325,000 people “were detained and held for questioning” following his executive order to bar people from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the US.
The US president claimed on Twitter on Monday that “big problems” were created at airports by a Delta Airlines computer outage, protesters and the “tears of Senator Schumer”.
A Delta systems outage on Sunday night led to departure delays and cancellations of at least 150 flights for the airline.
Protesters packed many of the country’s major airports over the weekend protesting the executive order.
Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer tweeted on Friday that “tears are running down the cheeks of the Statue of Liberty” over the ban.
Mr Trump also tweeted on Monday that “there is nothing nice about searching for terrorists before they can enter our country”.
President Trump’s chief spokesman is defending the manner in which the White House rolled out the immigration restrictions.
Sean Spicer says officials were concerned about the possibility that doing it in a more open fashion would “telegraph what you’re going to do” to people who might have rushed to airports to beat the ban.
In an appearance on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” on Monday, Mr Spicer also said officials’ highest priority was “to protect our own people” and said everybody in the government who needed to be consulted was consulted.
Mr Spicer also says that Mr Trump respects “people who are Muslim and peace-loving. But he also recognises that certain countries and certain areas of the world produce people who seek to do us harm”.
The spokesman, asked about delays at airports experienced by travellers with valid papers, said that 109 of some 325,000 travellers “were slowed down” in their trips, and called that “a small price to pay” for protecting the American people.