Some establishment-aligned Republicans criticized President Donald Trump’s refugee and immigration reform, strengthening the left’s emotional narrative about a fictitious “Muslim ban.”
“Never Trump” Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse called the refugee moratorium a “signal” to jihadists:
The President is right to focus attention on the obvious fact that borders matter. At the same time, while not technically a Muslim ban, this order is too broad. There are two ways to lose our generational battle against jihadism by losing touch with reality. The first is to keep pretending that jihadi terrorism has no connection to Islam or to certain countries. That’s been a disaster. And here’s the second way to fail: If we send a signal to the Middle East that the U.S. sees all Muslims as jihadis, the terrorist recruiters win by telling kids that America is banning Muslims and that this is America versus one religion. Both approaches are wrong, and both will make us less safe. Our generational fight against jihadism requires wisdom.
Maine Sen. Susan Collins issued a statement to the Maine Sun Journal:
“The worldwide refugee ban set forth in the executive order is overly broad and implementing it will be immediately problematic,” said U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, a Republican.
She said, for example, “it could interfere with the immigration of Iraqis who worked for American forces in Iraq as translators and bodyguards — people who literally saved the lives of our troops and diplomats during the last decade and whose lives are at risk if they remain in Iraq.”
Collins said that “while it is appropriate to consider religious persecution when reviewing a request for refugee status, a preference should not be given to people who practice a particular religion, nor should a greater burden be imposed on people who practice a particular religion.”
Pennsylvania Rep. Charlie Dent said in a statement to Politico that returning refugees to their country of origin caused unnecessary suffering:
“A Syrian Christian family who, according to family members in my district, held valid visas and were not refugees, yet were detained at the Philadelphia International Airport and then forced to leave the country as a result of the Executive Order. This family now faces the uncertain prospect of being sent back to Syria… [That incident] is unacceptable and I urge the administration to halt enforcement of the order until a more thoughtful and deliberate policy can be instated.”
Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake, part of the Senate Gang of Eight that tried to pass a massive immigration increase in 2013, wrote in a Medium post:
President Trump and his administration are right to be concerned about national security, but it’s unacceptable when even legal permanent residents are being detained or turned away at airports and ports of entry. Enhancing long term national security requires that we have a clear-eyed view of radical Islamic terrorism without ascribing radical Islamic terrorist views to all Muslims.
Ohio Sen. Rob Portman said on CNN’s “State of the Union” that Trump’s executive order was not “properly vetted” itself.
“I want to start with the executive order that President Trump signed into law on Friday. Three of your fellow Republican senators now, Ben Sasse, Susan Collins and Jeff Flake, came out and said that the order goes too far. Let me show you the statement from Senator Sasse, which reads in part, ‘While not technically a Muslim ban, this order is too broad.’ Do you agree?” host Jake Tapper asked.
“I agree with both of those aspects,” Portman replied. “One, it is not a ban. However, I think it was not properly vetted. So, you have an extreme vetting proposal that didn’t get the vetting it should have had. And as the result, in the implementation, we’ve seen some problems.”