The second ranking Democrat in the Senate told Breitbart News he has confidence in Homeland Security Secretary John F. Kelly after the secretary met with congressmen and senators at the Capitol late Tuesday afternoon.
“I have a lot of confidence in him and he proved his competence with his service to the United States Marine Corps,” said Sen. Richard J. “Dick” Durbin (D.-Ill.), the Senate’s Minority Whip.
The senator voted to confirm Kelly Jan. 20 in the 88-to-11 vote.
“I’m counting on him in this cabinet to be a voice of sanity and wisdom in a room with a lot of people with limited experience,” he said.
In the meeting, Kelly told lawmakers that he put out orders to make sure that resident aliens were no longer seizing Green Cards or visas from travelers, he said.
“I’ll take him at his word,” he said.
The executive order sparked protests after President Donald J. Trump signed it Friday, with massive protests at major airports and in front of the Supreme Court.
According to a Monday statement by the Department of Homeland Security, the executive order means that for the next 90 days, nearly all travelers, except U.S. citizens, traveling on passports from Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Iran, Somalia, Libya, and Yemen will be temporarily suspended from entry to the United States.
“The 90-day period will allow for proper review and establishment of standards to prevent terrorist or criminal infiltration by foreign nationals,” according to the statement.
In addition, the Refugee Admissions Program is suspended for 120 days and the department launched a review of the country’s traveler entry programs and procedures.
Kelly told reporters Tuesday that he rejected the idea that the executive order was a ban on Muslims entering the country.
“This is not, I repeat, not, a ban on Muslims,” the retired Marine general said. “The homeland security mission is to safeguard the American people, our homeland, our values, and religious liberty. It is one of our most fundamental and treasured values.”
Kelly said, “The seven countries named in the executive order are those designated by Congress and the Obama administration as requiring additional security when making decisions about who comes into our homeland.”
Bad actors are working every day to enter the country and do the nation and her people harm, he said.
“As my predecessor Secretary Johnson liked to say, it is easier to play defense on the 50-yard line then it is on the one yard line,” he said.
“By preventing terrorists from entering our country, we can stop terror attacks from striking the homeland. We cannot gamble with American lives. I will not gamble with American lives,” he said.
Durbin said the rollout of President Donald J. Trump’s executive order restricting immigrants and refugees from troubled parts of the world was not smooth.
The rollout was not a good way for Kelly to open his tenure, he said.