Trump signs "extreme vetting" executive action tightening restrictions for refugees
President Donald Trump's executive order temporarily barring refugees and citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries has drawn worldwide condemnation and sparked protests nationwide.
It is also testing the willingness of congressional Republicans to stay lined up behind the president.
Here are comments from members of Congress:
- Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said in an interview on ABC’s this week “I don’t want to criticize them for improving vetting,” but cautioned “I think we need to be careful. We don’t have religious tests in this country.” “Ultimately it is going to be decide in the courts as to whether or not this has gone too far,” McConnell said.
- House Speaker Paul Ryan’s spokeswoman said the order is “not a religious test and it is not a ban on people of any religion.” Speaker Ryan added that “President Trump is right to make sure we are doing everything possible to know exactly who is entering our country.”
- Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi are calling for Trump to reverse his “hateful anti-refugee, anti-immigrant executive orders.”
- Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., applauded the injunction issued against President Trump’s “unbelievable” action, calling it a “victory for American values” against a “discriminatory order.” “It’s clear that the president gave little consideration to the chaos and heartbreak that would result,” Feinstein added.
- Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., declared “We will not stand for this!” The potential Democratic presidential candidate for 2020 said “We are going to fight for ourselves, fight for our Muslim brothers and sisters.”
- California Republican Rep. Devin Nunes, chair of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, praised the order as a “useful temporary measure.” "In light of attempts by jihadist groups to infiltrate fighters into refugee flows to the West, along with Europe’s tragic experience coping with this problem, the Trump Administration’s executive order on refugees is a common-sense security measure to prevent terror attacks on the homeland," Nunes said.
- Democratic California Rep. Jim Costa stated Trump’s order was only adding to “bureaucracy and red tape.” “It is not the American way to ban individuals, mostly women and children…who are fleeing war-torn regions of the world.”
- Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., the senior Democratic on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence wrote Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly stating “the order contains misstatements of fact and law and is vaguely drafted, suggesting that little consideration was given to its implications.”
- California Republican Rep. Jeff Denham stated that safety and security “always come first,” but that “the way this is playing out has created a lot of uncertainty.” “Executive orders are not the way to resolve ongoing problems,” Denham said.
- Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., posted on Twitter the infamous photo of a young boy whose body washed up on a beach after fleeing Syria alongside the words “To my colleagues: don’t ever again lecture me on American moral leadership if you chose to be silent today.”
- A joint statement by Florida Republican Senator Marco Rubio and South Carolina Republican Senator Tim Scott called the didn’t disagree with the intent of the “ban,” but called it badly executed. “The manner in which these measures were crafted and implemented have greatly contributed to the confusion, anxiety and uncertainty of the last few days,” they said.
- Florida Republican Congressman Vern Buchanan’s Press Seretary Gretchen Andersen said Rep. Buchanan believes “the lives of Americans must come before providing refugee assistance” and said he would work with Congress and the administration to “better protect America against the types of attacks that have occurred in Europe.”
- Kaylin Minton, communications director for Republican Sen. Jim Risch of Idaho, said “Senator Risch believes the security of America and Americans if of the upmost importance,” but that the Senator was still “gathering and reviewing information.”
- Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., said that while he supports “thorough vetting,” he doesn’t support “restricting the rights of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents,” adding that a “far-reaching national security policy should always be devised in consultation with Congress and relevant government agencies.”
- Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan, former chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee agreed that “we need a major overhaul of our immigration system and a better vetting process.” “However,” he cautioned, “we need to strike a balance that protects the rights of Americans and those permitted to enter the country legally.”
- Kansas Republican Rep. Kevin Yoder: “It’s clear that the order is being interpreted too broadly to block valid visas and green card holders. While a temporary pause in new admissions is appropriate - the President should work with Congress to come up with clear procedures to ensure that our refugee program can continue in the safest manner possible.”
- Kansas Republican Rep. Lynn Jenkins declared “there is no question that we need to strengthen our borders,” but said “this Executive Order was painted too broadly.”
- Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., stated “The President is doing something tha tpeople have seen too little of in recent years. He is doing what he told the American people he would do. I would not support a travel ban on Muslims; I do support increased vetting on people applying to travel from countries with extensive terrorist ties or activities.”
- Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill, the top ranking Democrat on the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, tweeted that the order “flies in the face of our sacred value of liberty and freedom of religion.”
- Missouri Democrat Rep. Emmanuel Cleaver said he welcomes the public progrests and outrage, but wishes it materialized before Trump’s election. “Maybe it’s a bit unfair to criticize President Trump too fiercely, because he told the nation what he was going to do if elected and he is simply following through.” “If [his pledges] are ugly today, they were ugly months ago when he was saying it,” Cleaver said.
- Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., agreed with Trump’s broad position that refugee vetting is weak, but said Trump’s order was confusing and needs to be “redefined.”
- Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., did not reply to a McClatchy request Monday morning.
- Rep. Alma Adams, D-N.C., said she opposes President Trump’s “dreadful” executive orders “codifying religious and racial bigotry” and stated that she plans to work with U.S. Customs and Border Control to help local families affected by the immigrant freeze.
- Rep. David Price, D-N.C., condemned Trump’s action on Twitter, saying it “flies in the face of all we hold dear as Americans.”
- North Carolina Congressman Mark Walker, who leads the Republican Study Committee in the House, expressed the need to “slow things down and examine the flaws in the system” so they can be strengthened. He stressed worry that the order was applied to legal residents.
- North Carolina Republican Rep. Robert Pittenger said we should be responsive to “those who are persecuted for their faith or impacted by war,” but stressed the need for “thorough vetting” in line with the American Security Against Foreign Enemies Act he co-sponsored.
- North Carolina Republican Rep. George Holding claimed “keeping America safe by temporarily halting the refugee program and properly vetting those coming from terror hot spots was the right decision.”
- North Carolina Republican Rep. Richard Hudson said “grave security threats” justify Trump’s executive order.
- Pennsylvania Republican Rep. Charlie Dent said he understands the “intention,” but felt it was “rushed through without full consideration.” He added that “there are many, many nuances of immigration policy that can be life or death for many innocent, vulnerable people around the world,” and called on the administration to immediately halt the order.
- House Homeland Security Chairman Michael McCaul, R-Texas, praised the order for preventing “jihadists from infiltrating the United States.” President Trump is “doing more to shut down terrorist pathways into this country than the last administration did in eight years,” he said.
- Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio, who serves as one of the top Republicans on the Senate Committee on Homeland Security, remarked that the order was an “extreme vetting proposal that didn’t get the vetting it should have” on CNN’s State of the Union.
- A joint statement by Senators Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and John McCain, R-Ariz. fear the executive order “may do more to help terrorist recruitment than improve our security,” calling it “a self-inflicted wound in the fight against terrorism.” “Our most important allies in the fight against ISIL are the vast majority of Muslims who reject its apocalyptic ideology of hatred. This executive order sends a signal, intended or not, that America does not want Muslims coming into our country,” they said.
- Texas Republican Congressman Joe Barton’s spokesman Daniel Rhea stated “The president is actively working to make all Americans safer and improve security measures to enter the country.” We have heard of brief delays among constitutents are empathetic to any inconveniences while traveling.”
- Rep. Kay Granger, R-Texas, also supported the order. “I am convinced that President Trump made the decision because he believes it will make us safer.”“The job of the president is to defend and protect our nation. We must also protect our well-earned position as a caring and humanitarian nation. I pray that we do both,” Granger said.
- Texas Republican Rep. Roger Williams stated that he firmly supports the ban because “during this time, we must ensure our vetting process is completely foolproof.”
- Texas Republican Rep. Michael Burgess also supports Trump’s executive order and said in a statement that Congress should pursue legislation. “My top priority has always been to protect Americans at home and to do so by securing our borders,” Burgess said. “As he has made clear, President Trump is taking the steps well within his authority, and based off intelligence gathered in the Obama Administration, to keep our country safe.”
- As of Sunday afternoon, Texas Senators Ted Cruz and John Conyn also did not make public statements.
- Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., called the order “abhorrent” in a statement that condemned “slam[ming] the door” on “women and children fleeing horrific violence.”
- Rep. Dave Reichert, R-Wash., called the United States “the most compassionate nation and greatest force of good in the world,” but said thorough vetting was “critical” for the “safety of our families.”
- Republican Washington Rep. Dan Newhouse called it “reasonable” to review visa holders and refugees, but said the manner of implementation was making “innocent people” have their lives “needlessly disrupted” and encouraged the administration to review the order.
- Democratic Washington Rep. Rick Larsen said the executive order “scapegoats refugees fleeing war, terrorism and persecution,” and called Trump’s action “as low as is gets.”
- Democratic Washington Rep. Adam Smith said the president is acting in “direct contrast to our nation’s proud history of helping those in need.”
- Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., released a statement calling the executive order “barbaric.” She and fellow Washington Democrat Rep. Suzan DelBene applauded the Federal judicial decision to issue a temporary stay on immigrants in airports around the country.
- Washington Republican Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers stated that she wants to ensure people entering the country “do not pose a security risk, ” while remaining “a compassionate country that does not close its doors to those facing persecution and violence.”
- Washington Republican Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler said that while “security at our borders and enter checkpoints” is important and “can certainly be improved,” America “should be able to uphold is tradition of allowing those law-abiding foreign nationals – some of whom have put their own lives on the line to provide assistance to the U.S. on the battlefield – to proceed with their journeys.”
Correction: The office of Sen. Richard Burr did not respond to one attempt by McClatchy to reach him Monday. This piece originally said McClatchy made two attempts.
This piece has been updated to reflect several new statements.
Eric Wuestewald, @eric_wuest